HKEx to buy LME for $2.15 billion in first commodity venture

Hong Kong Shares

Shares of Hong Kong Exchanges declined 9.4 percent this year, valuing the company at $15.66 billion. Its net income fell 7 percent in the first quarter as listing fees declined. Hong Kong Exchanges recently lost its rank as the world’s most valuable exchange company to CME Group Inc.

The Chinese city’s bourse wants to expand its product base as the pipeline of large initial public offerings from China dries up. Hong Kong has hosted $3.2 billion in IPOs this year, compared with $9.8 billion in the comparable period in 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“I’m skeptical about the deal,” said Andrew Sullivan, principal trader at Piper Jaffray Asia Securities Ltd. in Hong Kong. “They want to build up the bourse and expand into other areas. They’re spending a lot of money at a time they’re not getting an awful lot of income. You won’t see the synergy straight away.”

LME Profit

The LME reported a 19 percent drop in net income to 7.68 million pounds last year, even as revenue climbed 21 percent to 61.2 million pounds.

The offer will be recommended by all the LME’s directors and sent to investors within 15 business days, with a meeting held before the end of July. It will need approval by more than 50 percent of LME shareholders, with the owners of at least 75 percent of the stock backing the move. The LME is owned by more than 60 of its 94 members.

The takeover, which needs the approval of the U.K.’s Financial Services Authority, may be completed in the fourth quarter. Both sides agreed to break fees of 25 million pounds to 30 million pounds depending on the circumstances.

Intercontinental Exchange Inc., the second-largest U.S. futures market, and Hong Kong Exchanges were the two parties left in a bidding process announced by the LME in September. Claire Miller, a spokeswoman for ICE in London, declined to comment. The LME said today it would no longer be seeking competing takeover offers.

Open Outcry

Hong Kong Exchanges pledged to maintain the LME’s contracts and ring, host to London’s last open-outcry trading. The bourse will continue to be based in London and regulated by the FSA. The Asian exchange also said it would keep the LME’s existing warehousing network, help the bourse develop its own clearing house and freeze trading fees until at least the start of 2015.

The transaction will help the distribution of LME data across Asia and increase the number of customers in mainland China, the London bourse said. Hong Kong Exchanges will also support the expansion of the LME’s warehousing network, which currently consists of more than 600 storage points.

The LME’s board after a takeover would consist of nine directors. Seven of those will have non-executive roles, with two of them chosen from Hong Kong Exchanges’ management. The bourse handled a record $15.4 trillion of contracts last year.

Hong Kong Exchanges is being advised by UBS AG and N.M. Rothschild & Sons Ltd. while the LME hired Moelis & Co.

Brian Marchiony, a spokesman for JPMorgan in London, declined to comment. JPMorgan owns 1.4 million ordinary shares, or 11 percent, and is the biggest shareholder. Sophie Bullock, a spokeswoman for Goldman Sachs in London, declined to comment. Goldman owns 1.23 million, or 9.5 percent.

Bloomberg News

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