In a globally challenging environment defined by the COVID-19 crisis, SIX demonstrated operational stability and, with the inclusion of the contribution from the newly acquired Bolsas y Mercados Españoles (BME), achieved operating income of CHF 1.4 billion (+21.8%) and EBITDA of CHF 368.9 million (+72.8%). EBIT and profit received an additional boost from the strong net financial result. The successful acquisition of BME will further enhance the profitability and competitiveness of SIX.
Thanks to its operational stability and diversified business model, SIX successfully mastered the challenging circumstances of 2020: The global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated market uncertainty engendered a high level of volatility in the financial markets and prompted record high volumes on the Swiss Stock Exchange at the end of the first quarter in particular. From mid-March, a large part of the staff at SIX worked from home or in split operations. SIX infrastructures remained available at all times, and stable, fair, and orderly stock market trading was ensured even in the midst of considerable market turbulence.
*excl. corporate functions
Securities & Exchanges
CHF 565.6 million
(2019: CHF 506.3 m)
CHF 185.9 million
(2019: CHF 187.5 m)
CHF 365.7 million
(2019: CHF 368.2 m)
CHF 196.6 million
(since closing of the transaction in June 2020)
The substantial increase in operating income to CHF 1,375.9 million (+21.8% compared to the previous year) was attributable to two main drivers: Firstly, following the successful completion of the acquisition of BME, SIX benefited from the additional contribution from the Spanish financial market infrastructure once the transaction had closed in June (CHF 196.6 million). Secondly, the high level of trading activity on the exchanges boosted the contribution from the Securities & Exchanges business unit (+11.7%). Alongside the high volumes due to the pandemic the unit’s results were supported by the fact that SIX enjoyed a market share of almost 100% in the trading of Swiss equities, with EU equivalence remaining suspended.
In the Banking Services business unit, operating income remained roughly stable (–0.9%), although Swiss payment transactions were heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as well. Cash withdrawals at ATMs and debit card payments at the point of sale decreased dramatically during the Swiss lockdown in spring. As the year progressed, debit transactions recovered. The growth in digital payment solutions, such as eBill, was even accelerated by the pandemic, while the use of cash remained at a low level. Overall, the opposing trends canceled each other out.
Operating income in the Financial Information business unit remained stable as well (–0.7%) despite negative foreign currency effects. As SIX has its broadest international footprint in Financial Information, it feels the effects of foreign exchange movements most keenly.
CHF 233.0 million
(2019: CHF 171.3 m)
CHF 19.5 million
(2019: CHF 30.4 m)
CHF 103.8 million
(2019: CHF 100.1 m)
CHF 72.1 million
The strong operating performance recorded by SIX despite more difficult market conditions was of central importance for the economy. This is the result of many years of experience and continuous investment in a stable and innovative infrastructure. Higher operating expenses compared to the previous year (+9.9%) were mainly attributable to the additional cost contribution of BME. Adjusting for BME, continuous efficiency gains led to operating expenses largely remaining at last year’s level. This was achieved despite ambitious projects that SIX continued to drive forward in 2020 and extraordinary cost items, such as M&A expenses.
The substantially higher operating income in combination with the improved operational efficiency resulted in significantly higher earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA). Despite the high level of project expenses, EBITDA totaled CHF 368.9 million (+72.8%).
The most important projects in the year under review were the ongoing work on establishing the SIX Digital Exchange (SDX) and the acquisition of BME as well as the immediate commencement of efforts to integrate it into the organization and processes of SIX.
The acquisition of BME lays the foundation for further growth.
The BME transaction represents a milestone in the history of SIX. Measured by free float market capitalization on its exchanges in Zurich and Madrid, SIX was thus Europe’s third-largest stock exchange group by the end of 2020. With the acquisition, SIX has created the basis for further scalability and profitability of its infrastructure.
In order to refinance part of the bridging finance for the BME acquisition, SIX issued a Eurobond of EUR 650 million in November through its newly established subsidiary SIX Finance (Luxembourg) Ltd. This Eurobond, 4.2 times oversubscribed, generated a great deal of interest from a geographically diverse set of institutional investors, demonstrating their belief in the strong track record, robust business model, and growth potential offered by SIX.