German stock market operator Deutsche Börse, faced with a possible invasion of US stock exchanges into Europe, has turned up the heat on rival Euronext to overcome their differences and create a pan-European exchange.
Deutsche Börse hopes to keep the US at bay with European help
Deutsche Börse, operator of the Frankfurt stock exchange, said in a statement on Wednesday that it was eager to begin concrete merger negotiations with Euronext barely a week after the US electronic exchange Nasdaq submitted a 2.4-billion-pound ($4 billion) bid for the venerable London Stock Exchange.
Deutsche Börse has failed several times over the years to get its hands on the LSE. And the German company officially said goodbye to those ambitions on Wednesday, even if the British Competition Commission (CC) formally cleared the way for Deutsche Börse to submit a bid.
"The Competition Commission has accepted the final undertakings, which will allow Deutsche Börse to acquire LSE, subject to specified conditions," the CC said in a statement released in London.
Given up on the LSE
Politicians have called a Deutsche Börse-Euronext tie-up interesting
Nevertheless, Deutsche Börse said it had no intention of pursuing a bid.
"We do not intend to make an offer for the London Stock Exchange," Deutsche Börse said, while giving itself a get-out clause by adding: "We reserve the right to review our position and make an offer in the event that an offer or possible offer for the LSE is announced."
Following its spectacular failures in recent years to tie the knot with London, the Frankfurt stock exchange said it would give top priority instead to a tie-up with Euronext, a project that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Jacques Chirac have also both said would be "very interesting."
"We are looking forward to entering into concrete negotiations with Euronext management on realizing a combination of the two groups," Deutsche Börse said, just a day after Euronext chief Jean-Francois Theodore explicitly left the door open to a possible tie-up.