Canada banks propose TMX deal to rival LSE bid
By Pav Jordan and Claire Sibonney
TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's TMX Group, operator of the Toronto Stock Exchange, has received a takeover proposal from a group of Canadian banks and pension funds that could trump a friendly $3 billion bid from the London Stock Exchange.
A bid from the Canadian financial institutions could represent a more palatable alternative for opponents of the LSE proposal, many of whom are concerned about control of the country's largest stock market falling into foreign hands.
Legislators and other elected officials in Ontario, the province where Toronto is located, want assurances that the city will not lose its status as a world financial center. The latest proposal, announced by TMX in a statement on Saturday, could address those concerns.
"Now Canadians have a Canadian alternative to look at that points to the strength of our financial services sector," said Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, an early opponent of LSE's takeover bid.
As if to emphasize the Canadian identity of the banks and pension administrators making the proposal, they have taken the name Maple Group Acquisition Corp - evoking the country's most patriotic symbol, the maple leaf.
The Maple Group includes four of Canada's largest banks -- Toronto Dominion Bank, National Bank of Canada, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Bank of Nova Scotia -- and pension funds from the provinces of Ontario, Quebec and Alberta, a source with knowledge of the deal told Reuters.
Canada's two other largest banks, Bank of Montreal and Royal Bank of Canada, are advisers in the LSE-TMX deal, and support it.
WAVE OF CONSOLIDATION Continued...