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Nasdaq Chief Sees OMX Deal as Way to Eastern Europe Firms

Nasdaq Chief Executive Bob Greifeld said Wednesday that shareholders in Nordic bourse operator OMX would benefit from a linkup with the U.S.-based exchange, enabling the combined company to expand its business with Russian and eastern European companies.

"This will allow us to be in the best position to win more European IPOs (initial public offerings) ... to clearly win IPOs in the Russian, eastern Europe, central European environment," Greifeld told reporters. "This would allow both organizations really to be in the forefront of the globalization of exchanges (and) to compete very successfully across Europe."

Greifeld was in the Finnish capital briefly to talk to business leaders after similar meetings with major OMX shareholders in Sweden this week. He declined to give details of those meetings, but his visit was seen as an effort to persuade investors to support the Nasdaq $3.6 billion cash-and-share takeover offer over a rival $4 billion all-cash bid from the Dubai exchange.

Nasdaq had been under pressure to find a European partner after its offer for the London Stock Exchange failed, and announced this week that it would offload its 31% stake in the LSE.

Borse Dubai's all-cash, 230 Swedish kronor ($33.24) per-share bid values OMX at nearly 14% more than Nasdaq's offer from May 25.

Long-Term Cooperation

Greifeld declined to comment on the Dubai bid except to say that the two offers are "fundamentally different," because Nasdaq was looking for "long-term cooperation between the two exchanges."

"Our offer is understanding what the combined organization can do in the future, it's not a transaction of the moment," Greifeld said. "We believe in combined enterprises, as opposed to cash _ you know, you sell your shares and then don't really care, you don't have a vested interest in it."

Two of the biggest shareholders in OMX, Investor AB and Nordea Bank AB, have agreed to the Nasdaq deal, but are allowed to consider the new bid because it exceeded an agreed-on threshold of 220 kronor per share.

Investor spokesman Fredrik Lindgren said Tuesday that an all-share offer from Nasdaq "is definitely an alternative."

Authorities Investigate

Sweden's financial regulator is expected to announce a key decision Thursday that could complicate Borse Dubai's bid.

The Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority is investigating whether Borse Dubai broke the law when it announced on Aug. 9 - a week before its formal bid - that it had purchased 4.9% in OMX and had options for a further 22.5%.

The probe centers on whether the announcement actually constituted a takeover offer and, if so, whether Borse Dubai followed the correct procedures under Swedish law.

The decision could affect the bid at a later stage, because the financial authority has the power to block a deal if it finds that Borse Dubai doesn't meet the criteria of being a "fit and proper" owner of OMX.

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