Exchange set to consider bid offers

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The London Metal Exchange has several serious potential bidders and will consider takeover proposals at its board meeting in late February, chief executive Martin Abbott said yesterday.

The world’s top market for industrial metals, which received initial takeover approaches in September, has been sending out detailed financial data to suitors in recent weeks.

“There is a very healthy number of potential bidders,” Mr Abbott said. “We want to show initial bids to the board on February 23.”

He did not say how many parties were interested in buying the 130-year-old exchange, but a source said that 15 suitors had expressed interest.

Metal industry sources have said the LME, which accounts for 80 per cent of global futures activity in industrial metals, could be worth as much as £1bn.

The LME published annual data showing volume jumped 22 per cent last year to a record 146.6 million lots and the value of trades surged 32.8 per cent to $15.4 trillion (£10.03 trillion).

Potential buyers may include CME, IntercontinentalExchange and UK-based broker ICAP, analysts have said.

Singapore Exchange, the Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange, the London Stock Exchange, and Deutsche Boerse-owned Eurex have also been mentioned.

Mr Abbott also said that the exchange would listen to objections to a hike in trading fees but “there was no provision to rescind the decision”.

The LME is facing a backlash by members after it said last month it planned to introduce an exchange user fee.