Middle East investors Borse Dubai and the Qatar Investment Authority hold the key to the future of the London Stock Exchange amid speculation it has become a takeover target after its aborted $3.5 billion (Dh12.86 billion) bid for Canada's TMX Group.
Borse Dubai owns nearly 21 per cent of LSE stock and the Qataris hold 15.1 per cent, Thomson Reuters data shows, making the investors easily the largest shareholders in the London exchange and key decision-makers in its future.
"They [the Middle East investors] might be like us and think this is a very good turnaround. And the shares have still got upside on the fundamentals," said one of LSE's largest European shareholders, who asked for anonymity.
"But if they get impatient it's the Dubai stake that is the critical one they could easily put the company into play. With two big shareholders, it's a done deal if they want it to happen."
The British exchange blamed its failure to attract support from TMX shareholders for the decision to cancel its merger with the Canadian exchange at the 11th hour on Wednesday. The withdrawal fuelled speculation the LSE may be an attractive takeover target for rivals such as USA's Nasdaq.
It has also thrown the spotlight on LSE chief executive Xavier Rolet, who was making his first major foray into the mergers and acquisitions market with the TMX bid.
LSE shareholders were quick to back the LSE boss yesterday, though future support will depend on how he steers the exchange through a widely expected wave of further consolidation.
"I'd be amazed if anyone is calling for Rolet to step down. He's doing a good enough job running the business and I don't think he's under serious threat in the short term," the head of trading at a large European investment bank said.
LSE shares have traded up 15 per cent in the past weeks as investors piled in hoping a bid would materialise if the British failed to secure the TMX merger. At one point yesterday shares were trading up 5.2 per cent.
From / Gulf News