Macquarie Bank given time till Dec 15 to decide on LSE bid

Nov 23 | Updated: Nov 24 2005, 05:54am hrs
Macquarie Bank Ltd, Australias biggest investment bank, must decide whether to bid for London Stock Exchange Plc, Europes largest equity market, by December 15, the regulator said.

Macquarie said in August it may be interested in bidding for LSE with partners.

LSE has also drawn interest from Euronext NV, the owner of the Paris and Amsterdam stock exchanges. LSE chief executive Clara Furse said on November 3 the company is seeking to cut short a so-called offer period tied to Macquaries potential bid that will make it easier for it to distribute funds and buy back stock.

Macquarie on December 15, must either announce a firm intention to make an offer for LSE or announce that it does not intend to make an offer for LSE, the UK Takeover Panel said in a statement on Regulatory news service. No extension to this deadline will be granted, except with the consent of the panel.

The Australian bank, whose profit quadrupled in the past five years through investments in highways and airports, may seek to add LSE, home to companies, including HSBC Holdings Plc and Vodafone Group Plc, as it expands in Europe.

Macquarie maintains its interest in a possible consortium offer for the LSE, Macquarie said in a statement on Wednesday. There can be no assurance that any offer will be made for the LSE and a further announcement will only be made as appropriate.

Euronext, which said it is interested in buying London Stock Exchange in December 2004, still has not said how much it is willing to pay for the UK company.