The £24bn merger between London Stock Exchange and its German counterpart Deutsche Börse looks to have been derailed by antitrust concerns in Brussels.
The LSE said it was “highly unlikely” it would be able to meet antitrust conditions set by the European commission for its tie-up with the Frankfurt stock exchange operator.
This is the third time the pair have tried to merge, with two previous attempts – in 2000 and 2005 – ending in failure.
The unexpected announcement by the London market, which runs the Milan stock exchange, came late on Sunday. The LSE said it had examined the European commission’s request to sell its majority stake in its Italian division, MTS, but concluded “it could not commit to the divestment of MTS”.
The group said: “The LSE board believes it is highly unlikely that a sale of MTS could be satisfactorily achieved, even if LSE were to give the commitment. Moreover, the LSE board believes the offer of such a remedy would jeopardise LSE’s critically important relationships with these regulators [in Italy] and be detrimental to LSE’s ongoing businesses in Italy and the combined group, were the merger to complete.”