U.S. exchange Nasdaq held out the possibility on Friday of boosting an offer for exchange group OMX currently worth $3.8 billion as it competes with a higher all-cash bid from Borse Dubai.
A senior executive at Nasdaq , speaking after a seminar that also featured the head of Borse Dubai, said her firm remained flexible on the structure of its cash-and-shares offer and that extended to the price.
Nasdaq's offer, launched in May, had won over the OMX board but in August Borse Dubai offered 230 crowns per share, or $4 billion.
Adena Friedman, an executive vice president of strategy at Nasdaq, said the firm would consider any bid change after concluding remaining formalities.
"Right now we are focused on getting our documentation into the market, getting our regulatory clearance," she said. "So at the time the shareholders have to make a decision, we will evaluate our situation and at that moment make a decision around the structure of our offer."
Asked what being flexible with structure meant, Friedman said: "Structure could include change in price." She added: "It (the price) won't go down."
Nasdaq's offer is currently worth 212 crowns per share, but varies based on exchange rates and Nasdaq's own stock price.
The sale of Nasdaq's 31% stake in the London Stock Exchange and a plan to subsequently buy back stock could also affect the value of the bid.
OMX shares at 1332 GMT were trading at 243.50 crowns, indicating the market's belief that a higher bid would come.
Stock exchanges around the world have been consolidated to meet the challenges of a changing regulatory landscape and competition from alternative platforms.
Nasdaq hopes it can leverage its experience in the United States to make OMX the primary market for trading European shares after sweeping regulatory reforms due in November.
"Standing still and waiting to see what happens is the surest way for Stockholm and OMX to be marginalised," Friedman said during the seminar at the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce.
Borse Dubai wants to support further growth for OMX in Europe through acquisitions and alliances, but is also focused on expanding in fast-growing markets in the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa.
Both offers have been met with some scepticism in Stockholm.
Facing off publicly for the first time at the Stockholm event, Borse Dubai and Nasdaq tried to calm local worries.
Per Larsson, Borse Dubai's chief executive, said the exchange would seek a listing in the future, addressing concerns that state ownership could hinder OMX's development.
"We intend to list Borse Dubai at an appropriate time," he said, declining to give details as to when this might be.
Borse Dubai is a holding company for the Dubai government's stakes in Dubai Financial Market and the Dubai International Financial Exchange (DIFX).
Both Larsson and Friedman said the Nordic region's markets would benefit from access to deeper liquidity under their firms' ownership and that jobs in the region would not suffer.
Larsson said the Nordic region would see "business as usual" if Borse Dubai succeeded in acquiring the company. "We will take OMX to the next level internationally," he added.
Friedmand repeated that Nordic firms would not face U.S. market oversight or legal requirements after a takeover by Nasdaq, something some market participants have fretted over. "There will be no regulatory spillover," she said.
Larsson told reporters his firm would file formal bid documents with a Swedish regulator to meet a deadline on Friday.