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Borse Dubai sweetens offer for OMX

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11:31 CEST+02:00
United Arab Emirates group Borse Dubai and US operator Nasdaq said Wednesday they had sweetened their takeover offer for Nordic market operator OMX and had secured 47.6 percent of its shares.

Major OMX shareholders Investor and Nordea agreed to sell their stakes for 265 kronor per share ($40.6) in cash, Borse Dubai said in a joint statement with Nasdaq, higher than the initial offer of 230 kronor.

The new offer values OMX at 32 billion kronor, or $4.9 billion.

Borse Dubai said that "57.4 million OMX shares, equivalent to 47.6 percent of OMX shares outstanding are now under Borse Dubai's control through direct ownership, option agreements and irrevocable undertakings."

Borse Dubai and Nasdaq said meanwhile they had lowered their acceptance offer from 90 to 50 percent.

Last week, Borse Dubai launched the takeover offer in partnership with US operator Nasdaq, to which ownership is to be transferred under a complex agreement that will then give Dubai a stake in the Nasdaq.

A state-owned Qatari investment fund bought 9.98 percent of OMX last week however and urged OMX shareholders "to take no action" on the Nasdaq/Borse Dubai offer.

Qatar and Dubai are both seeking to become the Middle East's centre of global trading. Both emirates have an independent market regulator.

Under Wednesday's accord, the Nasdaq/Borse Dubai agreement with Investor, which holds 10.7 percent, and Nordea, which owns 5.2 percent, could be torn up if there were to be a rival bid of 303 kronor per share.

That clause fuelled speculation on the Stockholm stock exchange that Qatar could present a rival bid and drove up the OMX share price, analysts said. The issue was changing hands at 273 kronor in mid-afternoon trading, above the 265 kronor offered Wednesday.

"We don't know what Qatar are going to do with this, but clearly a lot of the market believes there is going to be a competing bid," Thomas Johansson, OMX analyst at Kaupthing Bank, told Thomson Financial News.

Questioned by AFP, the Qatar Investment Agency said it had no comment.

The OMX share price has risen by some 120 percent since January, when it was trading around 125 kronor.

The board of OMX, which had welcomed the Nasdaq/Borse Dubai offer last week, said Wednesday's higher offer was "an acknowledgement that we have taken the right decision when choosing a strategic route."

And the Swedish state, which owns 6.6 percent of OMX, also responded positively.

Swedish Financial Markets Minister Mats Odell said he was pleased Nasdaq/Borse Dubai would adhere to local Swedish regulations if successful with their bid.

"For me it is important that the local markets' development and independence is safeguarded. The parties have now pledged to maintain local regulation and surveillance, and focus on competitive conditions for trade and transparency," he said.

OMX operates the stock markets of Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, Reykjavik, Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius.

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