ASX bids A$2.3 billion for SFE

The Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) has bid A$2.3 billion ($1.6 billion) for SFE Corporation, which runs the Sydney Futures Exchange.

ASX plans to exchange each SFE share for 0.51 ASX shares, a 25% premium to the current market value. The company also promised to hand back A$100 million to shareholders if the merger succeeded.

SFE shareholders were also given the option of receiving A$2.58 per share in cash and the balance in shares.

A previous takeover attempt, in 1999, was blocked by the Australian Competition and Consumer Council (ACCC), which said it would diminish competition. The ACCC has yet to approve the revived proposal, but local press quoted the ACCC general manager of mergers and assets, Tim Grimwade, as saying, "The proposed acquisition does not appear to raise competition concerns."

If the merger goes ahead, ASX chairman Maurice Newman and chief executive Tony D'Aloisio will retain their positions in the merged group. SFE chairman Rick Holliday-Smith and two other SFE directors will join the ASX board, and SFE chief executive Robert Elstone will leave the company.

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