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British market open to Middle East

Stephen Beard Sep 21, 2007
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British market open to Middle East

Stephen Beard Sep 21, 2007
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TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Bob Moon: More news on the global rush by stock exchanges to merge and form alliances across borders. Yesterday, there was word the Nasdaq stock market and the Dubai stock exchange were teaming up to buy a group of Nordic exchanges. At the same time, Dubai and another Gulf kingdom — Qatar, or Cutter, if you prefer — have bought up stakes in the London Stock Exchange.

Marketplace’s Stephen Beard is here with more on that. Good day to you, Stephen.

Stephen Beard: Good morning, Bob.

Moon: So, it sounds like the start of yet another takeover battle.

Beard: It looks like it. There’s a bit of bad blood between these two. I mean, the Qatar Investment Authority had been negotiating with Nasdaq to buy its stake in the London exchange. So it was very miffed, to say the least, that Dubai was getting it instead. It does indeed raise the prospect of these two rival Gulf states who are anyway vying with each other to set up financial centers in the Middle East that they will not battle it out for control of the London exchange.

Moon: Well, we know that Dubai, when it was involved with deals over here, has prompted national concerns about security issues. Any national security review in Britain over this LSE battle?

Beard: Not at all. When this story broke yesterday, it barely registered on the radar. Qatar and Dubai are seen as moderate, pro-Western Arab countries. They’re not seen as a threat. And indeed, the LSE has welcomed the Qatar state, because the thinking is this could attract more business, more listings from the Middle East.

Moon: No concern, though, about government ownership here? No concern about sovereign wealth issues?

Beard: No. I mean, the U.K. is famously laid-back about this issue. You mentioned the Dubai Ports World controversy in the U.S. But that happened because Dubai Ports World was buying a British company, P&O, which owned the terminals. But it also owned two whole ports in Britain, and there was no anxiety at all about that here, much less opposition.

Moon: Stephen Beard in London. Thank you very much.

Beard: OK, Bob.

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