So that’s it. Nasdaq is sticking. It says: “There is now insufficient time to effect any revision of the final offers via constructive dialogue with LSE and an LSE board recommendation by the deadline of midnight (London time) on Saturday.” The offer of £12.43 stands and the next two weeks until February 10 should be interesting. As Nasdaq already holds 29 per cent, it only needs 22 per cent to back its bid. Plenty of investors bought in when the shares were much, much cheaper. They may well be tempted but not with the LSE’s shares still trading above the offer price. Having dropped immediately after Nasdaq’s announcement, the stock is bouncing around £12.75. Either investors don’t believe another bidder won’t emerge (the NYSE?) or they believe the LSE’s growth story.
By coincidence, this comes on the same day as John Thain in Davos has a crack at the LSE and at Aim in particular. The chief executive of the New York Stock Exchange said London “had to be careful not to damage its reputation by allowing in companies that are not well run”. His remarks come on the day of the Aim conference. Our very own David Blackwell is there and will get reaction, although Aim got its retaliation in first in our pages this morning. Asked about whether he would bid for the LSE, Thain said simply he was concentrating on completing the merger with Euronext “for now”.
There is some other news. Torex Retail, provider of software to the retail industry, has had trading in its shares suspended “pending clarification of the company’s financial position”. It said contract delays would cause profits to be well below forecasts. Yet, it was only last week that Torex was boasting about “significant new business wins”. And it is only two months since new chief executive Neil Mitchell was proclaiming how he had “scrubbed” the accounts and despite a “small number” of “very specific” items in the accounts requiring “re-alignment” at a cost of £4.8m, Torex was “absolutely not” the next Isoft. He said then: “We have to have the bears and the guys shorting our stock basically to leave our stock.” Yes, Neil.
Also at the small end but still very interesting is I-mate, developer of handheld computers and phones. No-mate’s shares are down more than 40 per cent this morning after it warned that supply problems would push it to a second half operating loss. Two months ago chief executive Jim Morrison said 2006-7 would be “a transitional year” as the company migrated “away from our dependence on one supplier and the risk that that entails”. At the same time he declared: “I have never been more confident in I-mate’s future than I am today”. Morrison and Torex’s Mitchell should swap notes on investor relations.
Standard Chartered is selling its Indian fund management business to UBS for £147m. This is the ninth largest mutual fund manager in India.