NYSE owner mulls over bid for London Stock Exchange
The owner of the New York Stock Exchange is considering gatecrashing the London Stock Exchange's proposed £20bn merger plan with a possible rival bid for the British bourse.
Intercontinental Exchange (Ice) confirmed it was mulling an offer for the London Stock Exchange (LSE), although it stressed it had not approached the group's board and had yet to decide whether to make a bid.
The LSE, which owns index compiler FTSE, last week announced a proposed "merger of equals" with Germany's Deutsche Borse.
But the businesses said their tie-up would see Deutsche Borse shareholders own more than 54% of the combined group and would lead to the departure of LSE chief executive Xavier Rolet.
The LSE saw its shares jump to a record high of £29.14 at one stage after Ice revealed its bid interest, surging by around 8%.
Ice now has until 5pm on March 29 to make a firm bid or walk away under City takeover "put up or shut up" rules.
Its plans could scupper the LSE and Deutsche Borse merger, which already marks a third move by the pair to join forces after two previous failed attempts in 2000 and 2004-5.
But the LSE said talks with Deutsche Borse "continue to progress", adding it had not yet received a proposal from Ice.
Their possible merger is also under a cloud of uncertainty cast by Britain's EU referendum, with both the LSE and the Deutsche Borse warning last week that it could be derailed in the event of a vote for Brexit.
The bourses said a Brexit "would put that project at risk" and have formed a referendum committee to assess the outcome of the referendum on June 23.
Their proposed all-share deal would see LSE shareholders hold 45.6% of the group and Deutsche Borse the remaining 54.4%.
It would also see Deutsche Borse boss Carsten Kengeter become chief executive of the combined company and LSE's Donald Brydon taking up the role of chairman.