Baltic Exchange board backs SGX bid for London firm

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The Baltic Exchange board has unanimously backed a takeover bid from Singapore Exchange Ltd, a deal that will give SGX access to a trading platform for the multibillion-dollar freight derivatives market.

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The exchanges have agreed on the terms of the SGX offer, they said in a joint statement on Monday, with Baltic shareholders entitled to 160.41 pounds per share plus 19.30 pounds per share as a final dividend, giving the business a total valuation of about 87 million pounds ($114 million).

“The proposed acquisition will accelerate the growth and development of the Baltic Exchange beyond what it could achieve on its own,” Baltic Exchange Chairman Guy Campbell said.

Founded in 1744 as a forum for chartering vessels, the Baltic Exchange now produces benchmark indexes for global shipping rates. SGX’s offer comes as freight costs wallow at record lows after a slump in commodity markets coincided with an increase in the number of vessels.

“We look forward to working together with the Baltic Exchange to develop new products, benchmarks and services to the benefit of Baltic members, SGX shareholders and the shipping community worldwide,” SGX Chief Executive Loh Boon Chye said.

The deal requires the approval of the majority of the Baltic Exchange shareholders and SGX said it has the support of directors and certain shareholders representing about 74 percent of the company’s issued share capital.

SGX is looking to expand its global presence in shipping and has been developing Asian pricing benchmarks for commodities such as iron ore, liquefied natural gas and coking coal as it seeks to diversify revenue streams in the face of sluggish equities markets.

The deal is expected to be completed towards the end of November, subject to the necessary shareholder, regulatory and court approvals, the companies said.

The London Metal Exchange, CME Group, ICE, state-run conglomerate China Merchants Group and Platts were among other potential bidders, sources told Reuters previously.

Jefferies International is acting as financial adviser to SGX, with Nomura International advising the Baltic Exchange.

Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan and Anshuman Daga; Editing by David Clarke and David Goodman