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Qatar Is Close to Buying LSE Stake: Media Reports

Reuters
Sunday, 16 Sep 2007 | 9:23 PM ET

Qatar's state investment fund is close to buying Nasdaq's 31% stake in the London Stock Exchange Group, newspaper reports said on Sunday.

U.S. exchange Nasdaq has put its LSE stake on the market to boost its chances of buying Nordic exchange operator OMX.

The Sunday Times of London said the Qatar Investment Authority's 2.8 billion pound (US$5.62 billion) bid is equivalent to a 1,400 pence per share. LSE shares closed at 1,397 pence on Friday.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the fund was close to buying the stake, but said it wasn't clear how much it was offering.

The stake will be diluted to 22% of the LSE after the LSE completes its acquisition of Milan exchange group Borsa Italiana, the Wall Street Journal said.

Qatar, for now, isn't looking to buy all of LSE, the WSJ reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. The paper added that the Qatar fund may not make the purchase alone. It has held talks with other Middle Eastern investment funds about taking a junior role, although those talks haven't concluded and may not come to anything, the paper said.

If such a deal succeeds, it would be the latest investment from the Middle East in the UK. State-owned Qatar Investment Authority has offered to buy British supermarkets chain J. Sainsbury while State-owned Dubai Ports World bought UK-based port operator P&O.

No one was available for comment at the LSE, Nasdaq or the Qatar Investment Department.

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