London Stock Exchange 'committed' to TMX deal

The London Stock Exchange has said it "remains committed" to its merger with Toronto Stock Exchange owner TMX, despite news of a counter offer.

"London Stock Exchange Group and TMX have initiated the application process with Canadian federal and provincial authorities," the statement reaffirmed.

On Saturday, a group of Canadian banks and pension funds unveiled a $3.7bn rival bid for TMX.

LSE's share price closed up 6.8% in London on Monday.

The rally may reflect market expectations that the LSE may now become a takeover target.

"The view among the global financial elite is that if the LSE is frustrated in its attempt to merge with TMX, predator will become prey: the LSE itself will be gobbled up by some or other overseas rival," says BBC business editor Robert Peston.

The share price rally was given an extra 4% leg-up at lunchtime from news that Nasdaq is dropping its bid for the New York Stock Exchange and, by implication, may be available to bid for the LSE instead.

'Exciting' offer

TMX said it would consider the new bid while still seeking shareholder and regulatory approval for the LSE deal.

Recent months have seen a spate of merger talks between the world's leading stock exchanges.

In March, the US exchanges Nasdaq and ICE mounted their now-withdrawn bid for NYSE Euronext, in an effort to top an existing offer from Deutsche Boerse.

Last month, for its part, Australia indicated that it would block a bid from the Singapore stock exchange for ASX, the firm that owns the Australian Stock Exchange.

The fresh bid for TMX was made by a number of Canadian financial institutions operating under the name Maple Group Acquisition Corporation.

"Now Canadians have a Canadian alternative to look at that points to the strength of our financial services sector," said Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan.

He said the government would look at the bid, but while it was too early to say whether he personally preferred Maple's offer to that of the LSE, he was "excited" a Canadian bid had been made.

Any deal for TMX must gain government approval.

At the end of last year, the Canadian government blocked an offer for fertiliser group Potash Corporation from Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP Billiton on the basis that it was not in Canada's national interest.

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