Archipelago Takes Lead in Quest for Instinet

January 21, 2005 ( - Archipelago Holdings, an electronic stock exchange operator, is reported to be the front-runner in the quest to purchase Instinet.

The Financial Times, citing unnamed sources close to the situation, has reported that Archipelago is interested in Instinet’s electronic communications network – labeled Inet – and is looking to buy the company in a deal worth between $2 billion and $3 billion. Other companies are also interested in Inet, the Times reports, all looking to cut costs and combine technology; however, Archipelago has emerged as the front-runner in the race.

Inet – which handles trading of about 500 million shares a day – was formed by the merger of the electronic communication network businesses of Instinet and Island, the trading platform acquired in 2002, according to The Times.

Instinet is not viewed as a long-term asset by its parent company, Reuters, according to reports. Reuters has confirmed that it is looking to possibly sell or merge the business. It has admitted that talks over a possible sale are a possibility, but also insisted that it does not need to sell the company.

The Times also reports that Archipelago chief Jerry Putnam has in the past expressed interest in the company.