Stock exchange owner corners Oslo market
The owner of the Irish stock exchange has been cleared to drive home its bid for the Norwegian stock market operator - which will see it mop up one of Europe's few remaining independent players.
The move clears the way for pan-European markets operator Euronext to buy the Oslo Bors, Norway's main stock exchange.
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Last year, Paris-based Euronext snapped up the former Irish Stock Exchange in a deal worth €137m.
That came after the 225-year-old Dublin institution put itself on the market in anticipation of disruptions to the financial system as a result of the 2016 Brexit vote.
This month Euronext secured approval from Norway's Ministry of Finance to buy more than 50pc of Oslo Bors for 158 Norwegian kroner (NOK) a share, effectively blocking Nasdaq's bid. Both had valued one of Europe's few independent stock market operators at around NOK 6.8bn (€697m).
Both Euronext - which runs exchanges in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Lisbon as well as Dublin - and Nasdaq are looking to expand their portfolios.
However, opportunities are scarce as market operators either already belong to international groups or their shareholders want to remain independent.
With technology speeding up trading and deregulation leading to market integration, size has become an important feature for bourse operators as big data allows larger players to squeeze costs and reduce transaction fees.
The Oslo Bors acquisition is expected to diversify Euronext's revenue from shares and derivatives trading, given the Norwegian operator's leading position in seafood derivatives as well as oil services and shipping.
Euronext's success blocks Nasdaq's ambition of completing a sweep of the Nordic-Baltic region, where the US firm already owns the stock markets of Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland, as well as those of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Nasdaq had won the support of Oslo Bors' major investors, DNB and KLP.
Neither Oslo Bors' management, nor Norway's largest financial services group DNB, which holds a 20pc stake, or pensions company KLP, which holds 10pc, had been consulted ahead of Euronext's surprise December 24 bid. The three immediately began searching for an alternative bidder.
Nasdaq entered the fray in late January, but was unable to overcome Euronext's early support from over half of Oslo Bors shareholders.
Additional reporting Reuters