Canadian regulator to check LSE deal in public interest

City A.M. Reporter
Ontario's securities regulator is to consider whether the proposed takeover of exchange operator TMX Group by the London Stock Exchange is in the public interest.

Despite this, Howard Wetston, chair of the Ontario Securities Commission, said he could not say what specific metrics would be used to assess the deal, which would create a transatlantic exchange operator with a $7bn (£4.33bn) market capitalisation.

"I can't define public interest but I sure know it when I see it," Wetston told The Economic Club of Canada.

He said one of the issues to be considered was share ownership. The deal would give a single shareholder - Borse Dubai – more than ten per cent ownership in the combined company.

"OSC's approval is required for any party to acquire more than ten per cent ownership of the voting shares of the TMX Group," he said. "This share restriction will be considered in the OSC's review of the transaction."

Canada's fragmented regime of federal and provincial oversight assures the transaction faces a complex approval process that could stretch out until the end of the year.

The federal government and at least four provinces – Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia – will have a say.

In Ontario, both the OSC and the provincial government will have input in the approval process.

Ontario's Liberal government said on Tuesday it planned to have an all-party committee of the legislature review the bid.

"Depending on the focus of the legislative committee, its report may inform the commission's deliberations with respect to the issues it needs to consider during its review," Wetston said on Wednesday.

Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan has emerged as the most vocal critics of the deal, and opposition parties have echoed his skepticism about how it would affect the province and the country.