Magnus Böcker, chief executive of OMX, has expressed deep misgivings about a possible takeover bid by Borse Dubai following a meeting with senior executives from the middle eastern exchange.
He told the Financial Times on Monday he had concerns about the transparency and regulation of a market owned by just one shareholder and feared this could undermine OMX’s credibility.
He also called into question the manner in which Borse Dubai had amassed its stake in OMX, which has also generated significant attention from Sweden’s financial regulator.
“I appreciate the visit but I am still uncertain about any customer benefits,” Mr Böcker said on Monday.
Mr Bocker and Urban Bäckström, OMX chairman, held a meeting with Borse Dubai on Monday, during which they presented a list of five questions.
The questions covered ownership and governance; why Borse Dubai had built its stake the way it did; the benefits for Nordic financial markets from a deal with Borse Dubai; its view of the future strategy and role of OMX; and its plans for future ownership.
Mr Bocker indicated he had left the meeting far from satisfied with the answers, but emphasised he and the board would assess any future bid in accordance with all rules and regulations.
Separately, Sweden’s financial regulator turned up the pressure on Borse Dubai on Monday after it emerged the Gulf-based exchange operator would miss Tuesday’s deadline to declare whether it would make a bid for OMX.
The Financial Supervisory Authority has set a new and final deadline of Thursday and said Borse Dubai would be “called in for questioning” if it gets no answers.
Borse Dubai bought a quarter of the Nordic stock market company last week for SKr230 a share, topping the price of an agreed SKr208-a-share deal with Nasdaq worth $3.7bn.
The latest development adds to the sense of regulatory unease that has dogged Borse Dubai’s decision to hijack the takeover of OMX by Nasdaq, the US company.
Borse Dubai’s tactics have raised eyebrows in Sweden. It acquired the right to own 27.4 per cent of OMX without first informing the FSA. Under Swedish law, any purchase of more than 10 per cent needs regulatory approval.
These doubts were compounded by uncertainty over whether it was making a bid – forcing the FSA to send a letter last week seeking urgent clarification.
Borse Dubai said on Monday relations with the FSA were cordial: “We will not miss any deadline. We have agreed with Sweden’s FSA that we will hand in information no later than Thursday.” It provided no reasons for the delay.
If the FSA decides Borse Dubai’s move constitutes a bid, the latter will have to file formal offer documents within four weeks. If Borse Dubai disagrees, it could be fined up to SKr100m ($14.6m) and banned from making a bid in the future.
Executives from Borse Dubai have met representatives from the Swedish government, which has a 6.6 per cent stake in OMX.
They plan to meet this week with Investor, the holding company of the Wallenberg family, which owns 10.7 per cent of OMX. The attitude of OMX’s biggest shareholders will be crucial to any Borse Dubai decision to proceed with an offer.
Investor and the Swedish government have said price is not the only factor in the coming sale and are keen to hear more about its strategy.
Both are understood to have concerns about the transparency and regulatory implications of OMX being sold to just one company, as well as doubts about the benefits of a tie-up with the company compared with the Nasdaq offer.
The Swedish government released a statement quoting Karin Forseke, the ministry of financial markets’ privatisation specialist, saying: “Borse Dubai asked for a meeting and we have listened to what they had to say. There is no bid, but if one is presented, the government will look through it and make an informed decision.”