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Bidding may heat up as offer goes in for Exchange

Exchange FS has received a takeover bid from an unnamed buyer which could spark off further bids for the portal.

Industry insiders believe the prospective purchaser may be software provider Marlborough Stirling.

Marlborough Stirling supplies systems and services to major lenders and life offices, although it is likely that other parties will enter the bidding to pick up the Exchange because of its strong distribution presence in the IFA sector.

Marlborough Stirling has offices in the UK, Ireland, South Africa and Canada and has a market capitalisation of £271m.

Exchange FS Group shares rose by 12.5 per cent to 22.5p on the announcement on Monday while Marlborough Stirling saw its shares fall by 19 per cent to 147p in the two days following the announcement.

Roberts Clark director Ashley Clark says: “If it is Marlborough Stirling, they will want to integrate their software packages on the back of that.

“Whether it will be good for the Exchange depends on whether they decide to keep their focus on the business to business sector rather than targeting the consumer.”

One industry source says: “Product providers will be concerned that any buyer is large enough to resist subsequent takeover overtures from Misys, avoiding a concentration of distribution in one portal provider.”

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