Thursday, April 7, 2011

Singapore Exchange says has responded to FIRB on ASX bid

SINGAPORE: Singapore Exchange said on Thursday, April 7'' it has provided Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) with further written responses regarding its $7.8 billion takeover bid for ASX , a sign it has not given up hope on the deal.

The statement follows Tuesday's comments from Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan that he intends to reject SGX's bid for Australian bourse operator ASX on national interest grounds.

"SGX has today provided further written responses to the FIRB in connection to the ASX-SGX merger proposal. SGX has not amended the terms of the proposed merger," SGX said in a short statement.

It did not disclose the details of what it has written in its response.

A source familiar with the deal said SGX wants Australia to formally reject the bid for ASX as the government would be forced to put down in writing its reasons.

"This would make it harder for someone else to go after ASX as the objections would also apply," the source said.

The statement said SGX and ASX maintain their belief that the merger proposal would result in significant benefits for Australia and Singapore.

Australian Treasurer Swan is expected to publish his reasons for officially objecting to the bid as early as this Sunday, the Australian Financial Review said in an unsourced report on Thursday.

Another source familiar with the transaction said SGX was also expected to hear from the government as early as this weekend.

The Australian government had concerns that an SGX takeover could impact Australian regulators' ability to protect the country's financial settlement systems from future global financial crises or cause disruption to the delivery of clearance services, the report in the Australian Financial Review said.

"Read Swan's comments to the press in Australia and tell me what you think," said Derek Ovington, banking analyst at CLSA in Singapore."

"He doesn't sound to me like he's open to changing his mind. You never say never in these situations, as he did state originally that his decision was not final, but it sounds pretty final to me. Hopefully it won't take too long before we all find out."

ASX shares were trading 0.9 percent lower at A$33.45 in late Sydney trade Thursday. SGX shares fell 1.4 percent, underperforming a 0.2 percent fall in the broader Singapore market. - Reuters

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