LSE plunges as bid hopes falter

Despite unveiling a better-than-expected 42 per cent rise in operating profits to £120.1m, comments by the Nasdaq chief executive, Robert Greifeld, claiming he was in no hurry to acquire the London bourse, overshadowed the LSE announcement, sending the shares sharply lower.

Speaking in New York late on Wednesday evening, Mr Greifeld told reporters that buying LSE was a "marathon not a sprint", dashing some investors' hopes of seeing a bid soon.

Nasdaq, which owns a 25.1 per cent stake in LSE, is still seen as the favourite to acquire the company. However, Euronext and Deutsche Börse have also expressed an interest.

Shares in the company had more than trebled since Deutsche Börse first made an approach 17 months ago, hitting an all-time high of 1,285p two weeks ago. They closed down 9.3 per cent at 1,079p yesterday, giving the company a market value of £2.33bn.

Last week, it was revealed the New York Stock Exchange and Deutsche Börse had joined forces to work on a bid for Euronext.

Clara Furse, the chief executive of LSE, said yesterday she was in "no great hurry" to do a deal. "Clearly, we don't need to do a deal and we're not interested in doing a deal for the sake of doing a deal," she said. "We're interested in doing a deal if it adds to our growth story."

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