SGX gets competition green light on any ASX bid

CANBERRA (BestGrowthStock) – Australia’s competition watchdog effectively gave the Singapore Exchange (SGX) (SGXL.SI: ) a green light on Monday to pursue a takeover of Australian stock exchange operator ASX (ASX.AX: ), saying it did not see any major concerns.

SGX is likely to offer as much as $8.3 billion for ASX in a statement expected as early as Monday, a source with knowledge of the deal told Reuters at the weekend.

“I think it’s a matter between the Singapore Exchange and the Australian Exchange, and I can’t see that raising competition issues for us,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chief Graeme Samuel told Australian radio.

“We’re much more focused on the potential for new competitors to enter into the Australian market in terms of stock exchange dealings.”

A marriage of the SGX, Asia’s second-biggest listed bourse, and the ASX, its third-largest, would mark Asia-Pacific’s first major consolidation of exchanges in a move designed partly to ward off the threat of alternative trading systems.

SGX is set to unveil an offer for as much as A$48 a share to take over ASX in a cash and stock bid, the source said, with around 43 percent to be made in cash and the rest in SGX shares.

SGX said late on Sunday that it would make an announcement on Monday. ASX made no immediate comment on the Reuters report.

The ASX is due to lose its effective domestic monopoly next year, with a new entrant, Europe’s Chi-X Australia Pty Ltd, expected to begin operation in 2011.

“We’re aware of course of Chi-X and moves that they’re making. And there are some issues there that we’re examining with the Australian Stock Exchange and with other parties, just to try and make sure that they have an easier way in to provide real competition for stock market trading in Australia,” Samuel said.

(Reporting by Rob Taylor in CANBERRA and Saeed Azhar in SINGAPORE; Editing by Mark Bendeich)

SGX gets competition green light on any ASX bid