Goldman Sachs dumps 12.5% stake in LMAX

LMAX also reports healthy growth in FX volumes.

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Nearly 18 months after launch, U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs has sold its 12.5% stake in LMAX back to majority-owner Betfair for a reported £10 million ($15.7 million). Goldman's rep to the LMAX board, Phil Hylander, has stepped down. Betfair now owns nearly 90% of LMAX, with the remainder owned mainly by management.

UK-based LMAX, a spinoff of peer-to-peer gambling giant Betfair, is finally beginning to see some growth in FX volumes, after launching nearly 18 months ago to high expectations.

In its quarterly results filing made yesterday (for its Q3-2012, i.e. the three months ended January 31, 2012 - Betfair has an April 30 year-end), Betfair reported that LMAX had "strong volume growth on its Exchange over the last quarter". While Betfair did not back that up with specific numbers, that statement contrasts nicely with notes mentioned in previous quarterly reports, such as "LMAX has continued to refocus" (made in Q1) and "it remains at an early stage of its development" (made in Q2). Clearly, LMAX is doing better.

In the first half of fiscal 2012 (i.e. the six month period ended Oct 31, 2011), LMAX generated just £2.2 million  ($3.5 million) in revenue, about the same as in the previous year, and had an EBITDA loss of £2.7 million ($4.3 million). Apparently most of LMAX's revenue still comes from its Tradefair white label financial spread betting business.

According to data from Thomson Reuters, as reported by Financial News, LMAX volumes were around €16 billion ($21 billlion) in January, up from just €1 billion ($1.3 billion) in the summer months last year. Although its minimum deposit remains at $10,000, under new management led by CEO David Mercer LMAX seems to be focusing more on retail clients, with steps such as adding an MT4 trading option.

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