Euronext launches $729 mln bid for Oslo bourse

PARIS/OSLO (Reuters) – Pan-European stock market operator Euronext (ENX.PA) launched its $729 million cash bid for Oslo Bors OSLO.NFF on Monday, just hours after the Norwegian stock market operator said it had found potential alternative bidders.

FILE PHOTO: Company stock price information is displayed on screens as they hang above the Paris stock exchange, operated by Euronext NV, in La Defense business district in Paris, France, December 14, 2016. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

Euronext, which already runs exchanges in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Lisbon and Dublin, is offering 145 Norwegian crowns per share, valuing Oslo Bors at 6.24 billion crowns ($729 million). The offer is set to expire on Feb. 11.

Euronext said last month shareholders representing a little more than 50 percent of Oslo Bors’ shares had committed to sell at the offer price, and the Paris-listed firm’s CEO said on Monday these investors could not now sell to anyone else.

“This is not a hostile offer. It was solicited by shareholders, not the board,” Stephane Boujnah added on a conference call.

Oslo Bors’s board said on Friday it had sought and found potential alternative bidders, and would issue a recommendation by late February.

It urged shareholders to wait for its advice, which top investor Norwegian bank DNB (DNB.OL) – with a 20 percent stake – said on Monday it would.

“The board is working to find the best solution for shareholders and the Norwegian capital market,” Oslo Bors spokesman Per Eikrem said.

Euronext is looking to expand, but opportunities are scarce as market operators either already belong to groups such as the London Stock Exchange (LSE) (LSE.L) or Nasdaq Inc (NDAQ.O), or because their shareholders want to remain independent.

Mega-mergers have also met opposition from competition regulators, which blocked a planned tie-up between Deutsche Boerse (DB1Gn.DE) and the LSE.

Boujnah declined

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