India's Financial Tech sells Singapore commodities bourse to ICE

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Embattled Indian trading platform provider Financial Technologies (India) is selling its Singapore Mercantile Exchange (SMX) unit to Intercontinental Exchange Group for US$150 million (S$186.9 million).

Analysts had expected Financial Tech would shed some of its ownerships in exchanges to protect its core trading platforms business, as the company faces regulatory scrutiny that has sent its shares down more than 80 per cent this year.

It will use the proceeds to repay foreign currency loans, the company said in a statement.

"SMX didn't add anything to their bottom-line," said Ashish Chopra, an analyst at Motilal Oswal Securities in Mumbai.

"If, in a couple of years, their losses hadn't come down they would have contemplated selling it, but it's come before that scheduled period of time simply because of what's happening on the domestic front with all the regulatory scrutiny," Mr Chopra said.

Financial Tech has come under investigation by Indian regulators and police over suspected violations of rules on contract durations at the National Spot Exchange, a commodities exchange it owns.

Although SMX was considered by analysts to be the most promising of the global bourses partly or wholly owned by Financial Technologies, it has attracted limited volumes since starting operations in 2010.

Financial Technologies does not provide a breakdown of earnings for its units.

SMX, which trades mainly precious metals and base metals, had an annual turnover of US$71 billion and average daily volumes of over 8,200 contracts, according to its website, well below volumes in Financial Tech's domestic exchanges.

For Atlanta-based ICE, the purchase of SMX marks its latest deal after last week completing the acquisition of NYSE Euronext, which also gives it control of Liffe, Europe's No.2 derivatives market.

Financial Tech shares rose 3 per cent, adding to a 20 per cent gain on Monday and outperforming a 0.2 per cent gain in the broader NSE index.