* Euronext to imminently relaunch wheat futures contract
* May face competition from CME in wheat futures
* Euronext raises EBITDA margin target
* Shares jump as much as 10 percent to new high (Adds executive, CEO comments, details, share movement)
By Richa Naidu
Feb 25 (Reuters) - Euronext’s 20 years of experience in wheat futures and a planned relaunch of its contracts will help the exchange operator cope if U.S. rival CME Group enters the European wheat market, a senior executive said on Wednesday.
A surge in traded volumes in European wheat futures <0#BL2:> has spurred CME, the world’s largest futures operator, to launch its own contract by the end of April, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.
That would mark the biggest competition to Euronext’s flagship wheat product since it was created in the mid-1990s.
“While I would always have tremendous respect for an organisation like CME, I think we have the quality in our team, the quality in our product and the quality in our client community to prosper,” said Lee Hodgkinson, head of Euronext London, as the company reported its first results since being listed by parent Intercontinental Exchange in June.
Hodgkinson declined to comment on a whether Euronext might join forces with CME, a possibility the Chicago-based group said in June it would explore.
He reiterated plans to imminently launch a new version of the contract, following pressure to revamp it after French producers said last year that Euronext had to fix shortcomings exposed by poor harvest quality. The new contract will, among other things, offer more delivery silos.
Shares in Euronext rose as much as 10 percent to a record high after the pan-European exchange group raised its EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax and depreciation and amortisation) margin target to “close to” 53 percent by the end of 2016.
Euronext posted a 7.6 percent jump in 2014 operating profit, driven by healthy listing activity that included Europe’s three biggest initial public offerings (IPOs) during the year.
Capital raised from listings more than tripled to 10.8 billion euros last year, with the flotations of cable group Altice AS, Bill Ackman-run Pershing Square Holdings and insurer NN Group.
Euronext CEO Dominique Cerutti said 2015 was off to a good start with 8 new small and mid-sized company listings.
The stock market operator, which has bourses in Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, London and Lisbon, said it would pay a dividend of 0.84 euros per share.
It added its objections to parts of its exchange licence had been rejected by Dutch regulators and it was considering an appeal.
If the appeal is successful, special returns for shareholders could start in the second half of 2015, RBC Europe analyst Peter Lenardos said, against his current expectation for 2016.
$1 = 0.8807 euros Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz; Editing by David Clarke and Mark Potter