Regulators clear Australian exchange merger

The Australian Competition and Consumer Council (ACCC) has approved a merger between the country's two major exchanges, the Sydney Futures Exchange (SFE) and the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).

The ASX bid A$2.3 billion ($1.7 billion) for the SFE in March this year, in a bid that would see ASX chairman Maurice Newman and chief executive Tony D'Aloisio take over at the head of the merged exchange.

A previous takeover attempt, in 1999, was blocked by the ACCC, which said it would diminish competition. But the ACCC said today that it would not oppose the latest attempt.

ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said: "The ACCC considers the proposed acquisition is unlikely to substantially lessen competition given the strong evidence that the ASX and SFE are separate monopolies, and to a large extent do not compete already, nor are they likely to substantially compete in the future."

The merger was unlikely to slow innovation, as new products are not always exchange traded and there is no evidence that exchange competition is needed to produce innovation, the ACCC said.

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