Irish Stock Exchange seeks buyer: UPDATED

The Irish Stock Exchange is up for sale, a source said.

Moelis & Co is advising on the process, the person. Books went out last month, the source said.

A strategic, most likely another exchange, is the most likely buyer, sources said. Intercontinental Exchange, which owns the NYSE, may be interested, as well as NASDAQ, TMX, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the London Stock Exchange, Deutsche Borse and CBOE, people said.

Asked about the sale process, the Irish Stock Exchange said in a statement:

“Since the Brexit referendum we have been evaluating potential strategies to ensure that the ISE is well placed to take full advantage of Brexit-related business opportunities. This work is ongoing.”

Established in 1793 as the Dublin Stock Exchange, the Irish Stock Exchange lists debt, company shares and funds. The ISE is backed by five stock brokerages, including J&E Davy, Goodbody Stockbrokers, Investec Capital & investments, Cantor Fitzgerald Ireland and Davy Corporate Finance.

The ISE, or Dublin bourse, is on the lookout for another bourse operator to join forces with as it seeks to position itself for opportunities after Brexit, the Irish Times reported in September. The ISE is considering a strategic alliance with another European or international exchange, the story said.

It’s unclear how much ISE could fetch. The ISE’s 2016 profit after tax rose 21 percent to 8 million euros ($9.4 million) while revenue increased 6 percent to 29.2 million euros, according to press reports. More than 35,000 securities are quoted on the ISE, the Irish Times story said.

Stock exchanges have attracted private equity. TA Associates was an investor of Intercontinental Exchange. TA and Spectrum Equity have also invested in BATS Global Markets. Silver Lake and Warburg Pincus gained stakes in Intercontinental Exchange as part of their $5.2 billion sale of Interactive Data Corp in 2015. UPDATE: Warburg and Silver Lake gained $1.55 million ICE shares as part of their sale of IDC in 2015. The firms have since sold the shares and are no longer investors.

Executives for Moelis, Goodbody, TMX, LSE, Nasdaq, CBOE and CME declined comment. Davy, Investec and Cantor Fitzgerald could not be reached for comment.

Action Item: Contact Deirdre Somers, ISE CEO, at +353 1 617-4200

Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. Photo of the famous location in County Clare courtesy of mammuth/E+/Getty Images