REGULATORS yesterday approved the planned takeover of the London Metal Exchange (LME) by Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEx).
This means the deal to buy one of the City’s oldest – and certainly its most unusual – trading venues could complete as early as 6 December, bringing to an end 135 years of member-ownership.
LME is one of the few venues in the world that still practises open outcry trading and visitors to its Leadenhall Street offices can still see traders enter the ring and use arcane hand signals to buy and sell copper, aluminium, lead, nickel, tin and zinc.
In July members of the exchange voted to accept a £1.4bn offer from HKEx for the market. As part of the deal, open outcry trading on the world’s biggest marketplace for industrial metals is guaranteed to continue until at least 2015.
But attempts to preserve it beyond that date took a blow last week when Barclays announced that it would only take part in electronic and telephone trading for cost reasons. LME has grown in importance as the world market for metals has exploded in recent years and in September recorded record-high trading volumes.