LSE offers 250 million pound share buyback in fight against Nasdaq

The London Stock Exchange Group PLC on Thursday offered to return 250 million pounds (Ђ380 million; US$491 million) to shareholders as part of its fight to repel a takeover attempt by The Nasdaq Stock Market Inc.

In a circular to shareholders ahead of the Jan. 26 final offer deadline, the LSE raised its forecast of volume to 480,000 trades per day in 2008, up 41 percent from its previous estimate and 180 percent higher than volume in 2005.

The share buyback offer comes on top of 50 million pounds (Ђ76 million; US$98 million) offered earlier this year, and raises the total offer over the last 2 1/2 years to 974 million pounds (Ђ1.48 billion; US$1.9 billion).

"Nasdaq's wholly inadequate offer persists in undervaluing the world's capital market," said Chris Gibson-Smith, chairman of the LSE.

"Your board remains open to a strategic combination and the circular explains that shareholders and customers would benefit from a transaction which properly recognizes the value of the Exchange Group and its markets. Shareholders should not be persuaded to sell their shares below their true value."

The exchange said it still has 18 million pounds (Ђ27.4 million US$35.4 million) to spend from the previous 50 million buyback offer.

Nasdaq has built a 29 percent stake in the London exchange. Its offer of 1,243 pence (Ђ18.90 US$24.42) per share values the LSE at 2.7 billion pounds (Ђ4.1 billion; US$5.3 billion), reports AP.

LSE shares were trading at 1,315 pence (Ђ19.99 US$25.84), up 0.3 percent.

Nasdaq is under pressure to find a European partner amid trans-Atlantic consolidation the New York Stock Exchange is close to completing a deal with Euronext NV, while seven investment banks, including Goldman Sachs and Citigroup Inc., have unveiled plans for a rival European platform of their own to challenge the likes of the LSE.

An LSE combination with Nasdaq would create the world's largest equity market by listings, made up of more than 6,400 quoted companies with a total market capitalization of 6.3 trillion pounds ($12.4 trillion).

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