Monday 4 February 2019 3:06 pm

Euronext may improve offer for Norwegian stock exchange Oslo Bors in wake of Nasdaq’s superior bid

Pan-European exchange Euronext is considering increasing its offer for Norwegian stock market operator Oslo Bors after Nasdaq tabled a superior bid.

The battle for one of Europe’s last remaining independent stock markets intensified today as Euronext, which runs exchanges in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Lisbon and Dublin, refused to back down against US giant Nasdaq.

Read more: Nasdaq launches rival bid for Oslo Bors, countering Euronext

Last week the US stock market operator offered to pay 152 Norwegian kroner per share – valuing Oslo Bors at 6.54bn kroner (£590m), beating Euronext’s December offer of 145 Norwegian kroner per share at a value of 6.24bn kroner.

But Euronext, which has support from 50.5 per cent of Oslo Bors, reaffirmed its commitment to completing the acquisition this morning and said it would assess options to adjust the offer it tabled in December.

“This counterbid means the exchange consolidation saga takes another step forward, caused by the need to reach scale to drive profitability,” Rob Boardman, European chief executive of equities broker ITG said.

“However, it’s still not clear how this will benefit end investors.”

“Traditionally, lower prices come more as a result of increasing competition from new trading venues entering the market, rather than from consolidation,” he added.

The determination to acquire Oslo Bors continues Euronext's pattern of seeking modest acquisitions rather than a transformational deal that would put it alongside industry leaders such as CME, ICE and London Stock Exchange.

While the European firm has shareholder support, Oslo Bors’s management has publicly supported Nasdaq’s bid.

Following Euronext’s defiant statement, Oslo Bors chief executive Bente Landsnes said Nasdaq had the better offer and that a higher rival bid would not change the board’s conclusion.

Read more: Euronext tables €625m takeover offer for Norwegian stock exchange operator Oslo Bors

But the stalemate could be set to continue as the shareholders supporting Euronext pledged to “irrevocably” tender their shares at the offered price even if a higher rival offer was tabled.

Nasdaq would need Norwegian regulators to back its bid for the shareholders’ commitments to Euronext to lapse, which could happen from August, Nasdaq Nordic chief executive Lauri Rosendahl told Reuters.