Breuer: 'LSE lacks platform to go it alone'

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The Independent Online

Rolf Breuer, chairman of Deutsche Börse, the Frankfurt stock exchange, said yesterday London does not have the competitive technology platform it needs to go it alone.

Rolf Breuer, chairman of Deutsche Börse, the Frankfurt stock exchange, said yesterday London does not have the competitive technology platform it needs to go it alone.

Dr Breuer - trying to put together a consortium bid for the London Stock Exchange with the Madrid and Milan bourse following the collapse of the iX merger - said: "London does not have a competitive technological platform, but it does have the most interesting capital market, so it should not be surprising that those with a suitable platform are interested [in bidding for the LSE]."

His remarks, made on the fringe of the International Monetary Fund meeting in Prague, will almost certainly annoy Don Cruickshank, chairman of the LSE, who said he was not interested in any merger talks until the hostile bid from OM Gruppen, owner of the Swedish exchange, had been defeated. "I am not going to be drawn into an artificial timetable because there is a bid on the table. I have no intention of negotiating in public," he said.

As well as Deutsche Börse, top officials from Euronext, the French-led stock exchange grouping, have been pressing the LSE to open talks on an agreed merger. Euronext is prepared to go substantially better than the 50:50 deal it offered London in April and allow the LSE to take a majority stake in a combined group.

In its defence document, which went out to shareholders yesterday, the LSE called for an extraordinary shareholders' meeting for 19 October to vote on the lifting of the 4.9 per cent limit on individual shareholdings. OM has requested such a meeting as its bid would not succeed while the shareholding limit remained in place.

Mr Cruickshank said the LSE had no intention of hiding behind artificial barriers. "What we are effectively asking our shareholders to vote on is whether the acceptance level for a [takeover] code bid is 50 per cent or 75 per cent."

He said yesterday that the OM bid offered nothing of value to LSE shareholders. "It represents a terminal loss of influence." OM Gruppen hit back by accusing the LSE of failing to address the key strategic issues it faces.

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