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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs  22 October 2010

Singapore Exchange, Australia's ASX talk takeover

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Singapore Exchange is in takeover talks with Australia's ASX Ltd, a report said, in a deal which could create one of the world's largest exchanges with a market capitalisation of almost US$14 billion (S$18.2 billion).

Shares in the ASX and Singapore Exchange were both placed in a trading halt on Friday. The ASX said it was in talks with another party about a possible business combination but declined to elaborate.

The Singapore Stock Exchange was expected to make a full takeover bid for the ASX on Monday, The Australian newspaper said in a report on its website. It said UBS was advising ASX on the deal while Morgan Stanley was acting on behalf of the Singapore Exchange.

The ASX, which operates Asia's third-largest listed bourse, said last month it was in talks with other parties. "A party has recently re-activated confidential discussions with ASX concerning a possible business combination," it said in a statement, without giving more details.

The ASX has been looking at new business opportunities ahead of the end of its monopoly in 2011. The Singapore Exchange has a market capitalisation of around $8 billion, while the ASX was valued at $5.9 billion at the close of trade in Sydney on Friday.

The ASX and other Asian exchanges are investing in new technology to counter the threat of 'dark pools', or alternative trading systems, and boosting their capacity to handle large trades while also lowering fees.

In March, the Australian government approved in principle a market licence for Europe's Chi-X Australia Pty Ltd, which is expected to begin operation in 2011

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