25 March 2017
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HQ row fingered over likely LSE-Deutsche Bourse deal collapse

28 February 2017  |  5186 views  |  0 Dead end

As the £21 billion London Stock Exchange-Deutsche Bourse merger nears collapse, speculation is mounting that a fallout over the location of the combined group's headquarters - not the LSE's stake in Italy's MTS - is behind the deal's failure.

Yesterday, the LSE insisted that it would not cave to EU regulators' demands that it divest its 60% stake in Italian bond trading platform MTS. This, the exchange said, meant that the watchdog was "unlikely to provide clearance for the merger" when it hands down its verdict on 3 April.

However, suspicion is growing that the merger is really falling apart because of tension between the UK and German firms over where the combined headquarters will be be located.

When the deal was first agreed, last March, London was named as the location of the holding company. However, the UK's Brexit vote just months later altered thinking in Frankfurt, leading Deutsche Bourse to seek a change.

With politicians in both countries pushing their respective agendas, the LSE recently rejected a Deutsche Bourse proposal for a dual holding company structure, with bases in both London and Frankfurt, according to the London Evening Standard.

Now the merger looks set to collapse, with one insider on the German side telling the Standard that the MTS factor is a "weak excuse".

If the two European powerhouses do fail to combine - for the third time this century - it is expected that American rivals Intercontinental Exchange and CME Group will consider bidding for them.

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