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Dubai silent on report it is in talks to sell LSE stake

The LSE stake sale would be part of an Abu Dhabi buyout of exchange operator Borse Dubai.

December 20, 2010 9:37 by

Abu Dhabi is in talks to buy a 20 percent stake in the London Stock Exchange held by indebted neighbour Dubai, Britain’s Sunday Times said in an unattributed report.

Officials from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, two of the seven emirates in the United Arab Emirates federation, were not available for comment.

The LSE stake sale would be part of an Abu Dhabi buyout of exchange operator Borse Dubai and would follow the latter’s sale of about half of its shares in Nasdaq OMX last week, the Sunday Times reported.

Borse Dubai owns controlling stakes in local exchanges Dubai Financial Market  and Nasdaq Dubai, plus 20 percent of the LSE and a remaining 17 percent stake in Nasdaq OMX.

In March, Borse Dubai chairman Essa Kazim said talks had been held between the Dubai and Abu Dhabi governments over a merger of the DFM and Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange.

Turnover on markets in the United Arab Emirates has plunged since the financial crisis and is poised to slump to a six-year low in 2010, prompting calls for the local bourses to merge.

Abu Dhabi is seen as the driver of a potential merger, with Dubai’s debts estimated at $115 billion, mainly from state-linked firms.

Borse Dubai paid about $4 billion for the stake in Nasdaq OMX and 20 percent of the LSE, as part of a complicated 2007 deal that saw Nasdaq merge with Sweden’s OMX group.

The deal was completed before the 2008 credit crunch struck and the value of Borse Dubai’s holdings have since slumped. It paid 14.14 pounds a share for its LSE stake, while these shares ended Friday at 8.23 pounds.

Last Thursday, Nasdaq OMX bought 22.8 million of its shares from Borse Dubai for $497 million, pricing the deal at $21.82 per share. [ID:nN16199456]

Borse Dubai also agreed to sell a further 8 million Nasdaq shares to Investor AB , the holding company for Sweden’s Wallenberg family for an undisclosed fee, although if this was sold at a similar price as the Nasdaq buyback it would raise around $175 million.

Borse Dubai has debt worth $827 million maturing in February 2011 and the company said it would use the proceeds from the Nasdaq share sales to meet these obligations.

(Reporting by Matt Smith; Editing by Mike Nesbit)

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