Easdaq paves way for US takeover

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The Independent Online

Shareholders in Easdaq, the European high-growth stock market, yesterday voted to scrap a rule restricting ownership. The move paves the way for Nasdaq, the US hi-tech market, to take a majority stake.

Shareholders in Easdaq, the European high-growth stock market, yesterday voted to scrap a rule restricting ownership. The move paves the way for Nasdaq, the US hi-tech market, to take a majority stake.

At a meeting in Brussels, the owners voted to drop a rule that limits shareholders to a maximum 20 per cent stake.

Nasdaq, which currently owns less than 1 per cent of the Brussels-based market, is expected to take a 60 per cent stake in Easdaq, which has struggled to establish itself as a pan-European growth market against stiff competition from national competitors such as Germany's Neuer Markt and France's Nouveau Marché.

Merger talks between Nasdaq and Easdaq have been under way for at least two months. Easdaq, headed by Stanislas Yassukovich, a former deputy chairman of the London Stock Exchange, is believed to be looking to raise £41m in bridging finance to keep it going until an IPO early next year. A takeover by Nasdaq has the backing of Easdaq's biggest shareholder, Knight Trimark, a US retail broker which owns 19 per cent of Easdaq.

Launched in 1996 with help from Nasdaq, Easdaq never came close to its target of listing 500 companies within a year. It has only 62 listed companies, some of which are threatening to move to other markets. In an attempt to bolster flagging volumes, Easdaq has also persuaded companies with listings on other exchanges to trade on Easdaq.

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