Macquarie says it has approached LSE board seeking talks about possible offer |

Macquarie says it has approached LSE board seeking talks about possible offer

Daily Staff Report

LONDON – Macquarie Bank Ltd., Australia’s largest investment bank, said Thursday that it had approached the board of the London Stock Exchange seeking talks about a possible offer, and could be prepared to bid about 1.48 billion pounds ($2.58 billion) cash for Europe’s biggest exchange.The bank said the 580 pence ($10.09) per share offer would be subject to conditions including a review of information it has requested from the exchange.LSE shares fell 0.9 percent Thursday to close at 612 pence ($10.65), a level Macquarie said was too high for its bid.”Since Macquarie first confirmed its potential interest on Aug. 15, constant speculation has continued to support the LSE’s share price substantially above any level justified by the fundamental outlook for the LSE’s business,” it said in a filing to the exchange.Shares in the exchange had languished below 400 pence for much of 2004.A spokesman for the London Stock Exchange did not immediately return a call seeking comment. The exchange has been trying to shrug off the takeover speculation surrounding it and has repeatedly stressed its growth prospects and its desire to expand the business alone.”The priority is to get out of the offer period, so we can get on with running the business,” Chief Executive Clara Furse said in November.Britain’s takeover regulator last month set a deadline of Dec. 15 for Macquarie to make a formal offer for the LSE, which has also drawn interest from Euronext NV, the owner of the Paris and Amsterdam stock exchanges, and from Deutsche Boerse AG.Euronext has never officially put a figure on its potential bid. Deutsche Boerse abandoned its tentative offer of 1.4 billion pounds ($2.5 billion) in March after a shareholder revolt, but asked competition authorities to still consider the bid in case shareholders changed their minds. The LSE had said the offer from the German stock exchange operator was too low.A merger with either exchange would push the LSE into second place globally by market capitalization and value of equity trading. It currently ranks fourth behind the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq Stock Market and the Tokyo Stock Exchange.Macquarie said there was no assurance that any offer would be made before the deadline. The Australian investment bank has been exempt from competition issues involved with the Euronext and Deutsche Boerse, a factor analysts say is an advantage.Vail, Colorado

Support Local Journalism