Maple, LSE talk tough in last-minute dash for TMX

Mon Jun 27, 2011 5:45pm EDT
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By Andrea Hopkins

TORONTO (Reuters) - Bidders for the operator of Canada's largest stock exchange stepped up their last-minute push for votes on Monday as the deadline loomed for TMX Group shareholders to decide between a takeover offer from the London Stock Exchange or from a home-grown rival.

Shareholders are set to vote on Thursday on the LSE's friendly bid for TMX Group, which operates the Toronto Stock Exchange, and the heads of the LSE and TMX argued the case for their deal in a conference call on Monday.

They said they were highly confident of success in Thursday's vote and had no intention of delaying it to try to gather more support.

"(It) makes sense that the vote should continue to go on as scheduled, unless we and the LSE group decide to defer it," TMX Chief Executive Tom Kloet said. "At this point, that's not something that we have put on the table as something we're going to do."

Hours earlier, the Maple Group consortium of Canadian financial institutions and pension funds insisted on its own conference call that its bid was superior to the LSE's offer by C$5 a share.

"In essence, we are offering more cash today and more value tomorrow," Maple spokesman Luc Bertrand told analysts and reporters, days after both sides sweetened their respective offers.

While the two sides lobbied via speaker phone, a group that includes a number of independent Canadian financial firms threw its support behind the LSE, saying a successful Maple bid would create a monopoly in which Canada's exchanges would be owned and managed by many of their most powerful participants.

"Our goal is to have exchanges that have independent ownership and management and that operate without conflict in a flourishing competitive market," the independents said in a statement, signed by the heads of Caldwell Securities, Raymond James, CI Financial and Haywood Securities, among others.   Continued...

<p>The London Stock Exchange is seen during ther morning rush hour in the City of London April 11, 2011. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>