ASX merger ‘won’t affect competition’

Graeme Samuel, chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, says his initial reaction to the proposal is that it isn’t likely to impact competition in Australia.

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Labor and the coalition have declined to state their position, but the Greens say Singapore’s human rights record is appalling, and the government should reject the deal.

Treasurer Wayne Swan told parliament yesterday the takeover needs the approval of the Foreign Investment Review Board.

The head of Hong Kong’s stock exchange says the planned multi-billion dollar merger could dent the city’s new

listings business.

“I think to say we have nothing to be concerned about would be doing Singapore and Australia a serious injustice,” Ronald Arculli, chairman of Hong Kong’s bourse, told the online edition of the Wall Street Journal.

“All of us are out there competing,” but “there will be occasions when a company decides Australia and Singapore is the place for them”.

Hong Kong led the world last year in initial public offerings, with more than $US30 billion ($A30.38 billion) in new listings — a key driver of its business.

Arculli told the Journal that past stock exchange mergers have had “mixed success”, adding that Hong Kong’s exchange would consider an alliance “if the opportunity is right”.

The proposed merger aims to create the world’s fifth biggest exchange with a market capitalisation of about $A12.45 billion although it first needs to pass regulators and a growing political backlash.

It is scheduled for completion in mid-2011.