TMX, LSE defend deal as regulator lists priorities

Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:00pm EST
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By Pav Jordan and David Ljunggren

TORONTO/OTTAWA (Reuters) - The authors of a plan to combine the London and Toronto stock exchanges insisted on Thursday that the deal was fair, as regulators prepared to review if the proposal is in the public's best interest.

Canada's top securities regulator said the continued strength of Canadian equity markets will be crucial as it mulls whether to support the London Stock Exchange's C$3.1 billion bid for TMX Group, parent company of the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Approval from the Ontario Securities Commission is one of a series of green lights needed for the deal to fly. Other provinces will also have a say, and federal officials must rule if the proposal is of "net benefit" to Canada.

"I would like to emphasize that the OSC's role is not to approve or reject the proposed transaction," commission Chair, Howard Wetston, told an Ontario legislative committee that is examining the transaction.

After the session, he told reporters, "If we're dissatisfied that the transaction in some way or another doesn't meet our requirements, then the parties are going to have to think about what they may need to do to address them."

But the architects of the proposal told reporters in Ottawa that they had no plans for changes.

"We took a lot of time, a lot of care, a lot of effort in putting it together ... We think it is absolutely the right deal for both organizations and this is the deal we are now taking to the marketplace," said David Lester, director of information services at the LSE.

"We're listening ... and taking on board the feedback and seeing whether we've missed anything... But as I say, the deal we really did craft very thoroughly, in between two boards over a number of months, and we believe it is the right deal."   Continued...