Top bosses of the Hong Kong and London stock exchanges appeared to be at loggerheads today as both sides remained hesitant to budge over a £32bn tie-up.
In a passionate plea to investors, Hong Kong Exchange and Clearing (HKEX) chief executive Charles Li said that a merging of the two sides would “complete each other”.
But Li’s £32bn offer for the LSE was snubbed earlier this month by boss David Schwimmer, who appeared to take a fresh swipe at HKEX indirectly this morning when he said that Shanghai, rather than Hong Kong, was China’s “financial centre”.
At the SIBOS banking conference in London, Li once again urged shareholders to support the proposal, which came as a shock to the City.
Li told an audience today that if he were boss of the London Stock Exchange, he too would have rejected the deal, saying: “If I were in David’s shoes, I would reject Charles Li. I accept that. But I think the opportunity is such that London investors deserve a look at it.”
Speaking just minutes after Schwimmer, Li admitted that HKEX’s offer for the group was “late”.
He said: “I regret to say that we were late…We had wanted to do this for quite a while.”
HKEX has been embarking on a charm offensive to woo investors in recent weeks, drafting in bankers to push through the cash-and-share offer.
Read more: Chill out about Hong Kong’s bid for the LSE
However, the LSE is pursuing its own plans to acquire data provider Refinitiv for £22bn, but HKEX has been seeking to convince investors that its deal is more preferable.
The proposal comes just two years after EU regulators blocked a proposed £21bn merger between the LSE and Germany’s Deutsche Boerse.