Last days of the LSE, whoever wins bid battle

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The Independent Online

According to a joint study by IBM's Institute for Business Value and the Economist Intelligence Unit, the bulk of the services provided by exchanges such as the LSE is "little more than a glorified eBay".

The study argues that the real question facing the industry is not who among the LSE, Nasdaq, New York Stock Exchange or Euronext will come out on top in the latest round of consolidation but what these exchanges will look like in 10 years - and whether there will be any need for them at all.

Suzanne Dence, a senior financial markets consultant at the IBM Institute for Business Value, said the key value provided by exchanges today was the guarantees they provided investors that financial instruments they bought would actually be delivered.

Ms Dence said this service alone would not be sufficient to ensure that leading stock exchanges survive in their current form over the coming years. She warned: "Exchanges will need to adapt and evolve to focus on new ways to provide value and service to their customers."

The study's conclusion was based on a survey of more than 400 executives who run the world's bourses, brokerages, hedge funds and regulatory bodies.

Meanwhile, the battle for the future of the LSE is likely to continue this week.

Nasdaq is expected to add to its 15 per cent stake in the company, though under the Takeover Panel's rules it can raise its shareholding only by a further 10 per cent. Once it has done so, the US exchange will have to wait seven days before being able to take its holding up to 29.9 per cent.

Having dropped its tentative 950p-a-share cash offer last month, Nasdaq has to limit its stake to less than 30 per cent for six months unless a rival bid emerges or the LSE agrees to a takeover.

The New York Stock Exchange will also come under the spotlight. Last week, in a regulatory filing submitted to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the NYSE said it was "currently engaged in discussions with certain participants".

It added: "We intend to continue to engage in strategic discussions and we will need to respond to potential opportunities quickly and decisively".

The comments intensified speculation about a counter-bid for the London bourse from the recently listed NYSE.