Opposition to LSE merger hots up

LSE shareholders fear that iX, the proposed new Anglo-German exchange, is too blue-chip stock centred and that the creation of German-regulated market for hi-technology stocks will downgrade Aim, the stock exchange’s Alternative Investment Market – a first step into the public market for fledgling companies.

Last week the Guinness Peat finance group, which has 250,000 shares in the LSE, amounting to just under a one per cent stake, said it would campaign ‘actively’ to stop the merger.

GPG chairman Sir Ron Brierley sent a letter to the stock exchange damning as ‘dross’ a memo issued last month detailing how the iX would operate and claiming the ‘merger of equals’ would undervalue the LSE.

Don Cruickshank, the chairman-designate and chairman-elect of iX, is in the midst of a month-long campaign to win over sceptical shareholders and Aim-listed companies.

The Fund Management Association has also raised concerns that the share prices could be distorted by the proposed restructuring of iX.

‘The fear is that Aim will be left on the side if the merger goes ahead,’ one stockbroker said. ‘Aim has been a great success and there is concern over whether early-stage and fast-growth companies will have access to a quote.’

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