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In response to ICE, proprietor of the NYSE, COVID-19 has difficult the M&An image

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Jeffrey C. Spokesperson, Chairman and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange and Chairman of NYSE, speaks at Sandler O & # 39; Neill + Partners' New York Global Exchange and Brokerage Conference

By John McCrank

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The COVID-19 pandemic has made mergers and acquisitions difficult because social distance and travel restrictions have made it difficult for top managers to meet face-to-face with the head of Intercontinental Exchange Inc (N) 🙂 on Thursday.

"The COVID-19 environment has really created winners and losers in many areas, including financial services," said ICE CEO Jeffrey Sprecher. "We have received many inquiries from fintech companies who are concerned about their future funding opportunities."

ICE, which bought the New York Stock Exchange in 2013, developed from a small energy trading company in 2000 to one of the world's largest exchange operators with a market capitalization of $ 51.6 billion, mainly through acquisitions.

The latest high-profile deal that was investigated was the acquisition of the online marketplace eBay Inc (O 🙂 worth over $ 30 billion, which ICE gave up in February after a backlash from investors.

Since then, the coronavirus pandemic has spread rapidly, leading to closures worldwide, enforcing mandates from home, and restricting personal meetings.

These measures have made it difficult for CEOs to meet, get to know each other, and determine if their businesses would be a good fit, Spokesman said when calling analysts.

"We are in a great position when the right thing comes, but it's a complicated environment for mergers and acquisitions just because of social distancing," he said.

The only area where M&A activity has increased has been smaller private equity firms that want to sell to larger, deep-pocketed companies, he said.

ICE, which operates equity and futures exchanges, clearing houses and data stores, is looking for potential acquisitions that would speed up the already accelerated initiatives, although nothing has "moved the needle" so far, he added.

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