InterContinental Exchange (ICE) and Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEx) are both believed to have tabled bids of around £1.3bn for the 135-year-old LME, the City’s last open-outcry trading pit.
Directors are expected to vote on the offers today. Any deal would be likely to need the backing of major shareholders, including JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Barclays.
Both bidders pledged to keep the LME’s unique make-up unchanged for now, including its warehousing network, complex prompt-date structure and open outcry trading.
Parts of the City are concerned, however, about the impact of an HKEx victory and the power shift to the east. China is also likely to develop its own metal exchange. Others in the square mile fear a rise in membership fees.
If the LME is sold for £1.3bn it could lead to a payout of more than £5m for chief executive Martin Abbott, based on his shareholding. The LME could not be contacted.