London Stock Exchange merger under threat

London, Feb 27 (IANS) The 24.5-billion-pound ($30 billion) merger of the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and its German counterpart Deutsche Boerse could collapse after the LSE said the deal was unlikely to be approved by the European Commission (EC), the media reported on Monday.

The EC had ordered the LSE to sell its 60 per cent stake in MTS, a fixed-income trading platform, the BBC reported.

However, the LSE said the request was “disproportionate”.

It warned investors it would struggle to sell MTS and that such a sale would harm its ongoing business.

“Based on the commission’s current position, LSE believes that the commission is unlikely to provide clearance for the merger,” the UK exchange said in a statement on Sunday night.

The two rival exchanges announced plans for a “merger of equals” last year, aiming to create a giant trading powerhouse that would better compete against US rivals.

They had already agreed to sell part of LSE’s clearing business, LCH, to satisfy competition concerns before the commission’s surprise demand concerning MTS earlier this month, the BBC said.

The EC had given the exchanges until Monday to come up with a proposal to meet that demand.

The LSE said that such a sale would need regulatory approval from several European governments and would hurt its wider Italian business.

“Taking all relevant factors into account, and acting in the best interests of shareholders, the LSE Board concluded that it could not commit to the divestment of MTS,” the statement said.

Deutsche Boerse, in response, said that it and the LSE would await a further assessment by the EC, which was expected to make a decision by the end of March.

Shares in the London Stock Exchange fell 3 per cent on Monday morning following the announcement.

–IANS

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