May 13, 2019 / 6:23 AM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 2-Norway clears way for Euronext to win Oslo Bors in Nasdaq bid battle

(Adds Norwegian government statement, background)

By Sudip Kar-Gupta and Terje Solsvik

PARIS/OSLO, May 13 (Reuters) - Euronext won Norway's Ministry of Finance approval to buy up to 100% of Oslo Bors on Monday, effectively ending a five-month battle with Nasdaq for one of the last independent stock market operators in Europe.

While Euronext has already secured a stake of more than 50% in Oslo Bors, Nasdaq had argued that no takeover should be allowed unless a two-thirds stake was obtained in order to ensure that a buyer would have complete control.

Both had offered 158 Norwegian crowns per share for Oslo Bors, valuing it at around 6.8 billion Norwegian crowns ($779 million), but the view of the Norwegian government was crucial.

"Euronext welcomes the ministry's clearance to acquire up to 100% of Oslo Børs VPS's capital and looks forward to completing the next steps to close the transaction by the end of June," its Chief Executive Stéphane Boujnah said on Monday.

Nasdaq controls more than a third of Oslo Bors with support from the Norwegian market operator's major shareholders DNB and KLP and had been hoping to block Euronext's bid.

No such minimum ownership requirement will be imposed however, the Norwegian ministry said in a statement.

"Euronext looks forward to supporting the Norwegian financial and business community, to working constructively with all key constituents and stakeholders to further drive the success of Oslo Børs VPS," Boujnah said.

Nasdaq expressed its disappointment at the decision by the government, and said it would assess its options.

"The decision not to require a two-thirds majority of the shares to be obtained by any person seeking to acquire control of Oslo Børs VPS is disappointing," Lauri Rosendahl, president of Nasdaq Nordic, said. ($1 = 8.7338 Norwegian crowns) (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta in Paris and Terje Solsvik in Oslo; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Alexander Smith)

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