OM unbowed by crushing defeat in bid for London Stock Exchange

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The Independent Online

Undaunted by his crushing defeat in the bid for control of the London Stock Exchange, Per Larsson, chief executive of the Swedish stock exchange group OM Gruppen, said yesterday he would continue his efforts to take over the LSE.

Undaunted by his crushing defeat in the bid for control of the London Stock Exchange, Per Larsson, chief executive of the Swedish stock exchange group OM Gruppen, said yesterday he would continue his efforts to take over the LSE.

The bid, which precipitated the collapse of the LSE's attempted iX merger with the Frankfurt stock exchange in October, closed yesterday with a meagre 6.7 per cent acceptances. The offer needed 50.01 per cent support to succeed.

Mr Larsson, who had no apparent regrets about the bid, said that OM would start engaging LSE shareholders in talks next week that could ultimately lead to a new offer. "I don't think that the LSE has an independent future. The LSE stands at a very important crossroads, where the board has to decide which way it wants to go. If it wants to go down the road of shareholder value it has to change its culture completely," he said.

Mr Larsson said he did not think that a merger or alliance with a traditional exchange such as Nasdaq, the US technology exchange, favoured by many LSE members, would work. The LSE's hand is also being sought by Deutsche Börse, Euronext (the French, Dutch, Belgian exchanges group), and the New York Stock Exchange.

"They [the LSE] have to clarify their strategy and clarify it very soon," Mr Larsson said.

OM is precluded under City takeover rules from launching an unsolicited bid within the next 12 months. But it is not barred from striking an agreed deal nor from intervening in the event of the LSE receiving a bid from another source.

Mr Larsson said that he believed that LSE shareholders accepted the arguments that the OM side had put but wanted more time to decide which way the LSE should go. "We are a commercial organisation. At this point in time I will not exclude anything which will create shareholder value. We will keep all our options open."

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