TORONTO (Reuters) - Still stinging from calling off its marriage to the London Stock Exchange, TMX Group, operator of the Toronto Stock Exchange, wasn’t ready on Thursday to start talking about a tie-up with the Canadian suitor that has made a hostile bid to take it over.
“We’ve been very committed to a deal with the LSE group and we’ve not been flirting elsewhere so to speak,” TMX Chief Executive Tom Kloet said.
He said his company was focusing on growth after scrapping the C$3.6 billion deal with the LSE on Wednesday.
“We’re not in any of those discussions right now, but the reality is that one never knows what will happen,” Kloet told journalists after the TMX annual shareholder meeting.
The TMX/LSE deal collapsed as the two sides realized a day before the shareholder vote that they would not get the two-thirds majority needed to consummate their plan to build a transatlantic powerhouse in energy and resource equities.
“Make no mistake ... we will absolutely continue to grow internationally,” Kloet told shareholders at the TMX annual general meeting, at which the vote on LSE-TMX proposal was to be held.
The collapse of the LSE bid opens the door to a hostile C$3.8 billion offer from the Canadian bank-led Maple Group consortium. Kloet said TMX will talk to Maple Group after taking time to consider its options, but that there were no talks scheduled.
“I don’t think it would be appropriate for us to say publicly at this point, before we started the process, when we will, or whether we will, make a formal recommendation,” Kloet said. “We will engage with Maple after we take some time to think about the road in front of us.”
Few believe the TMX can afford to stand still as global exchanges race to expand their product bases and broaden their geographic reach, or risk being swallowed up by rivals or lose ground to new market entrants.
In London, the canceled deal fueled speculation that the LSE may now present an attractive takeover target. The Wall Street Journal said U.S. group Nasdaq OMX was in the preliminary stages of studying a move for the LSE Group, citing a source familiar with the matter.
LSE shares rose sharply in London, finishing up more than 10 percent at 1,061 pence. TMX shares edged down 0.68 percent on Thursday afternoon in Toronto to C$43.90.
The Maple Group, a consortium of 13 Canadian banks, pension funds and financial services firms, said it hoped to “now engage in a positive dialogue with the TMX Group board”.
Insufficient support for LSE’s bid will not necessarily translate to a win for Maple, which still needs to allay antitrust fears and address concerns about the amount of debt it would take on to finance the takeover.
Brenda Mallouk, a TMX shareholder who attended the company’s AGM on Thursday, said she was not enthused by the Maple offer. She said she would rather see TMX remain a stand-alone entity.
Shareholders have until August 8 to tender their shares to the Maple bid.
Reporting by Euan Rocha and Solarina Ho, writing by Pav Jordan; editing by Janet Guttsman and Peter Galloway