'Hard to say' if HKEX will revisit offer for LSE, says chairwoman Laura Cha

Jeffrey Tan

SINGAPORE (Oct 10): Fresh from withdrawing its £32 billion ($54 billion) pursuit to buy the London Stock Exchange Group, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing chairwoman Laura Cha said she is unsure as to whether the Hong Kong bourse might revisit the offer in the future.

The offer – which excludes LSE’s offer to buy Refinitiv, a data and trading group, for US$27 billion ($37 billion) – was rejected by LSE.

“It’s hard to say, it’s hard to say,” she said during a panel discussion at the 59th World Federation of Exchanges General Assembly & Annual Meeting on Wednesday.

Asked whether HKEX might consider acquiring a different target, Cha said: “It’s hard to say too” —leading to laughter from the audience.

Nevertheless, she added that HKEX will not rule it out.

According to Cha, HKEX had wanted to make the offer for LSE in September last year, but decided not to do so given the uncertainty emanating from Brexit.

Yet, as it turned out, Brexit did not happen on March 31. And so, HKEX made the offer last month, thinking it was a “better timing”.

HKEX’s decision to withdraw its acquisition offer for LSE was a disappointing move, conceded Cha.

“But [if we were] to move forward [with the offer], we would be going into hostile territory, which is not something we have intended,” she said.