The London Metal Exchange (LME) has started sending financial data to more than 10 potential bidders for the exchange, a spokeswoman said on Thursday.

The memoranda have started to be sent out to the relevant parties, the spokeswoman said.

In September, the LME, one of the last bastions of open outcry trading, said at least 10 parties had expressed interest in buying the 130-year-old independent exchange. Metal industry sources have said the bid could be worth a potential 1 billion pounds.

Last month, the exchange sent non-disclosure agreements to potential bidders, which had to be signed before they received information containing sensitive financial data.

Initial bids are due before the end of February, the LME has said.

There is market speculation that the list of potential acquires may include CME Group Inc , IntercontinentalExchange and UK-based broker ICAP .

Singapore Exchange , the recently launched Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange, the London Stock Exchange , and Eurex owned by Deutsche Boerse have also been mentioned by metals sources.

(Reporting by Susan Thomas; editing by Keiron Henderson)