December 28, 2018 / 7:39 AM / 20 days ago

Euronext secures majority backing of Oslo exchange shareholders ahead of bid

PARIS/OSLO (Reuters) - Pan-European exchanges group Euronext NV (ENX.PA), which plans a bid to buy Oslo Bors OSLO.NFF, said on Friday it had now secured the backing of a majority of shareholders in the Norwegian stock market operator.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of stock market operator Euronext is seen on a building in the financial district of la Defense in Courbevoie, near Paris, France, May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Euronext said shareholders representing 50.6 percent of the capital of Oslo Bors had agreed to sell their shares ahead of the tender offer that Paris-listed Euronext plans to launch in the coming weeks.

On Monday, Euronext had said shareholders representing 49.6 percent of Oslo Bors’ capital backed its bid.

Euronext, which already operates bourses in Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Lisbon and Dublin, has offered to buy Oslo Bors for 625 million euros ($716 million), a price that represents a 21 percent premium to the Norwegian firm’s share price at the close of trade on Dec. 21.

“Exceeding the 50 percent of total outstanding shares threshold shows the interest from Oslo Bors VPS shareholders ... satisfying one of the conditions required for its completion and strengthening Euronext’s confidence on its successful outcome,” Euronext said in a statement.

Euronext already owns a 5.1 percent stake in Oslo Bors but owning more than 10 percent would require approval from the Norwegian government, which may hinge on the contents of Euronext’s upcoming offer document.

While some Norwegian opposition politicians have been skeptical of the deal, a junior government minister struck a conciliatory note on Friday.

“This could result in even better, cheaper services for Norwegian investors via increased investment in new technology. It’ll be interesting to see what the (Oslo Bors) board says,” Svein Flaatten told business daily Finansavisen.

Oslo Bors, which is due to celebrate its 200th anniversary in 2019, will give its view on the offer when the bid has been formally presented, a spokesman said.

Euronext seeks to build a diversified pan-European group of stock markets but opportunities in the region are scarce, either because operators already belong to industry heavyweights such as London Stock Exchange (LSE.L) and Nasdaq Inc (NDAQ.O) or because shareholders want to remain independent.

($1 = 0.8726 euros)

Reporting by Inti Landauro in Paris and Terje Solsvik in Oslo; Editing by Susan Fenton

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