WRAPUP 1-Toronto, London stock exchanges abort merger plans

Wed Jun 29, 2011 1:46pm EDT

* TMX says will review opportunities, including Maple offer

* TMX could not achieve 2/3 threshold needed for LSE deal

* TMX shares rise as high as C$44.15 as LSE deal canceled

By Pav Jordan

TORONTO, June 29 (Reuters) - The London and Toronto stock exchanges abandoned plans for a C$3.6 billion merger on Wednesday, as it became clear they would not win enough shareholder support for their transatlantic alliance.

In brief statements issued just one day before a shareholder vote, the exchanges said they realized TMX Group (X.TO) shareholders would not give them the two-thirds majority they needed to approve their friendly deal.

The London Stock Exchange (LSE.L) would have owned 55 percent of the new venture, designed as a powerhouse in resource and energy equity. It could now become a takeover target itself in the wave of global exchange consolidation.

TMX Group, operator of the Toronto Stock Exchange, said it would now review opportunities, including a hostile offer from a Canadian consortium.

"Now we just have to ensure that management decides to enter into a friendly negotiation and figure out a way of actually putting everything together with us," said a source with the Maple Group.

The Maple Group, officially formed in May, took root in February as its member banks voiced concerns a takeover by the LSE would shift control of Canadian capital markets to London.

Wrapping itself in Canada's most potent national symbol, the maple leaf, Maple said its unashamedly nationalistic proposal will keep a crucial domestic asset in Canadian hands.

Abandoning the plan represented an embarrassing climbdown for both exchanges, but especially for the LSE, which is left red-faced after a courtship which began in February.

"A lot of people are striking deals and not getting them across the finish line," said Ed Ditmire, New York based analyst for Macquarie Securities.

"While the failed deal probably puts an end to TMX's M&A ambitions, other exchange operators will likely continue to look for partners. This reinforces my belief that we should expect more mergers, not less."

Maple, whose all-Canadian members include four major banks, five huge pension funds and North America's top life insurer, had offered C$3.8 billion for TMX, mostly in cash.

LSE's mostly-stock offer was worth about C$49 a share.

TMX shares rose on the news, touching a high of C$44.80 before easing back. That's still below the Maple offer price of C$50 a share. (Reporting by Pav Jordan; editing by Janet Guttsman)

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