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MEXICO CITY, June 13 (Reuters) - Shares of Bolsa Mexicana de Valores, Mexico's stock exchange, debuted on Friday in a $440 million initial public offering that sets it up to forge links with foreign marketplaces.

Exchange chairman Guillermo Prieto said the newly floated company plans to look at deals with exchange operators in Latin America, the United States and Europe, where many have already merged across borders.

"Now we're on the playing field, we have the ball and it's a matter of seeing where we pass to," Prieto told reporters.

Spanish stock exchange operator BME bought 1 percent of the Mexican bourse for the opening price of 16.5 pesos a share. Its board has approved a purchase of up to 5 percent of the Mexican company, known as the BMV.

Shares of the BMV closed down 0.06 percent at 16.49 pesos after an initial surge of more than 21 percent.

Stock, derivative and futures exchanges around the world have hooked up in recent years as tougher competition and improving technology puts pressure on profit margins.

The BMV, until now closely held by Mexico's banks and brokerages, sold as much as a 41 percent stake, including overallotments, to over 13,000 local and foreign investors.

Besides stocks, the BMV lists debt, derivatives, and interest rate and peso futures. Stock trading activity in Mexico is slack compared with regional leader Brazil, but over time is expected to pick up.

The BMV, Mexico's only exchange operator, expects growth in the larger debt-trading market to outpace equities.

Brazil's BM&F commodities and futures exchange raised $3.4 billion in its IPO last year, and Bovespa, which operates the Sao Paulo stock exchange, took in $3.8 billion in its market debut. The two are now merging.

As well, Chicago's CME Group, the world's largest commodities exchange, is taking a 10 percent stake in the BM&F in return for 2 percent of its own stock.

Mexico's BMV posted net profit of 290 million pesos ($28 million) last year on 1.21 billion pesos in sales.

The exchange intends to use funds from the offering to increase stakes in its custodian, settlement and derivatives trading businesses.

Mexico's most recent big IPO came in November, when cable television company Megacable raised more than $600 million.

The BMV has a provision limiting investors to a maximum 5 percent stake unless they win the approval of shareholders. The government would have to sign off on any purchase of more than 10 percent by a single investor. ($1 = 10.38 pesos) (Additional reporting by Ben Harding in Madrid; Editing by Gary Hill)

Author:
Noel Randewich
United States
www.reuters.com