Panel tells Nasdaq to clarify position again

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The Independent Online

The Nasdaq fell foul of the Takeover Panel yesterday for the second time in its pursuit of the London Stock Exchange.

The Takeover Panel required the US exchange to clarify statements made on Wednesday during the whistlestop tour of London by its chief executive Bob Greifeld as he tried to drum up support from sceptical investors for his £12.43-a-share hostile offer for the LSE.

In a statement, through the Regulatory News Service, the Nasdaq insisted it would not call an extraordinary general meeting to oust LSE directors if its hostile bid fails next week. However it said it "reserved the right to support an EGM or any other action" to "protect our investment".

The Nasdaq also said it had made no firm decisions on what to do with its 29 per cent holding in the LSE in the event that the bid fails. Mr Greifeld, in an interview with The Independent, said the Nasdaq was likely to hold the stake for at least four to six months after the European Mifid directive to create a single market in financial services is adopted in November. However, he also said the company wanted to retain the "optionality" to sell.Retaining the stake would allow the Nasdaq to assess the impact of the increased competition to the LSE that it claims will be fostered by the new rules.

The Nasdaq will be banned from bidding for the LSE for 12 months if the bid fails, regardless of what it does with the stake.

Yesterday the US exchange insisted it had given "no indication" that it favoured one option for the LSE shareholding over another.

In January, the Panel forced the Nasdaq to clarify reports that it might increase its bid, after a complaint made by the LSE.

LSE shares yesterday finished up a penny at £13. The rise came as Paulson, the hedge fund, said it had taken an interest in a further 1.3 million LSE shares at £12.99, taking the operation's stake to 5.51 per cent.