Nasdaq Raises Offer Price in Battle to Take Over Oslo Bors

The U.S. exchange operator increased its bid by 3.9 percent to 158 kroner a share for Oslo Bors VPS, according to a statement on Monday. Nasdaq also lowered its acceptance condition to at least two-thirds from 90 percent and extended its acceptance period to March 29.

Nasdaq Nordic chief executive officer, Lauri Rosendahl, said he’s “confident” in winning the takeover fight with broad support in Norway from shareholders and others.The development adds to an increasingly bitter contest to buy the main stock exchange in western Europe’s biggest oil and gas market. Euronext last month raised its bid by 9 percent, also to 158 kroner, valuing Oslo Bors at almost $800 million.
 
Nasdaq has said its dominant position in the Nordics, where it already runs exchanges in Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland, makes it an obvious choice for Norway. It’s already won the support of the Oslo Bors board and the two largest shareholders. In total, Nasdaq is backed by investors owning just over 35 percent of Oslo Bors.
 
In a statement, Adena Friedman, president and chief executive officer of Nasdaq, said it has “has a strong track record of successfully operating exchanges in the Nordic region, and we have repeatedly proven that we are able to combine the advantages of being one of the world’s leading market operators with an ability to facilitate the distinctions and individual strengths of national financial ecosystems.”

The board of Oslo Bors also on Monday reiterated its support for the Nasdaq bid.

But Euronext, which already has direct or indirect control of just over 50 percent of Oslo Bors, gave no indication it’s giving up. The Franco-Dutch exchange operator on Monday said it remains confident that it represents the strategically most attractive industrial partner for Oslo Bors and for the Norwegian financial and business community in general.

“Euronext’s minimum ownership condition has been fulfilled and the transaction will be completed once regulatory clearance has been obtained,” a spokeswoman for the bourse said.

Euronext has given shareholders until March 11 to decide.

The rival bids will be assessed by Norway’s markets regulator and, ultimately, the country’s finance ministry in a process that could take months.