Börse investors plot to kick out Seifert and head off bid for LSE

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The Independent Online

Rebel shareholders are preparing an attempt to oust Werner Seifert, chief executive of Deutsche Börse, as the row about its £1.3bn bid for the London Stock Exchange intensifies.

Rebel shareholders are preparing an attempt to oust Werner Seifert, chief executive of Deutsche Börse, as the row about its £1.3bn bid for the London Stock Exchange intensifies.

Two large hedge funds, The Children's Investment (TCI) and Atticus Capital, are so incensed about the Frankfurt group's tilt at its London rival that they want the company to get rid of the bid's architect.

The Independent on Sunday has learnt that a number of shareholders have been contacted to see if they would support an attempt to get rid of Mr Seifert as a way of stopping the move for the LSE.

Both TCI - which owns 5 per cent of Deutsche Börse - and Atticus - which owns 2 per cent - have made clear their opposition to the LSE bid, saying that the company should instead return around €500m (£345m) of its cash resources to shareholders.

This position is supported by a number of other investors, including the UK's Standard Life. At the same time, other high-profile shareholders such as State Street Global and Harris Associates, run by David Herro, have raised questions about the way Mr Seifert has conducted his attempt to buy the LSE.

In particular, shareholders are angry about the lack of consultation before Deutsche Börse revealed that it might bid £1.3bn for the LSE. In the past couple of weeks Mr Seifert has started talking to investors and has said a vote will be held on the bid at the group's annual general meeting in late May.

Shareholders are understood to be frustrated at having to wait so long for a vote. "The battle could be over by then," said one.

However, that is unlikely, as Euronext, the Franco-Dutch exchange group, detailed its potential bid for the LSE last week. Though it did not put a price on what it was willing to pay, the City is betting it can offer at least £1.5bn.

The Office of Fair Trading is expected to decide this week that the bids for the LSE must go to Brussels to be reviewed by the European Commission. This will slow the bid timetable down by a couple of months.

No one at Atticus was available to discuss the attempts to oust Mr Seifert. TCI's founder, Christopher Hohn, refused to comment.

A spokesman for Deutsche Börse said that shareholders would have the opportunity to make their views clear at the group's AGM.

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