The London Stock Exchange (LSE) faces a fresh takeover bid from overseas this morning after US market Nasdaq offered £2.7 billion for the exchange.
Nasdaq's cash offer, valuing each share at £12.43, is the latest in a series of bids from rival exchanges in the past year and a half. Pan-European bourse Euronext, Deutsche Boerse and the New York Stock Exchange have all tried and failed to seize control of the LSE.
While none of the previous attempts have been successful, business analysts believe that the latest Nasdaq effort is the bid most likely to succeed.
The US exchange had tabled an offer worth £2.4 billion in March, which was rejected by the LSE. Under takeover guidelines it was forced to wait until last month before upping its offer.
Making today's bid, Nasdaq pointed out that while recent rapid growth in the market's profits have made it an attractive prospect, its share price had risen by 216 per cent in the last two years, limiting the extent to which it could raise its March offer.
It also stressed that the £2.7 billion valuation took into account the £284.7 million of net debt held by the LSE on September 30th this year.
"We are excited about the prospect of combining two strong businesses to form the leading global cross-border equity market platform giving issuers the ability to dual-list simultaneously in London and New York," Nasdaq's president and chief executive, Robert Greifeld, said.
"The combined entity will be well-positioned to lead further consolidation and compete effectively for the benefit of all market users."
LSE shares rose sharply on early morning trading following the announcement of the Nasdaq offer, up by over six per cent during the market's first hour.