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Singapore ASX Bid Raises National Interest Concern, Hockey Says

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Magnus Bocker, CEO of the Singapore Exchange Ltd.
Magnus Bocker, chief executive officer of the Singapore Exchange Ltd. Photographer: Sergio Dionisio/Bloomberg

Oct. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Singapore Exchange Ltd.’s A$8.4 billion ($8.3 billion) bid for Australian rival ASX Ltd. raises national interest concerns, opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey said, becoming the second Australian lawmaker to question the deal.

“It is of great concern, unless it can be proven otherwise, that our major regional competitor is buying out our own stock exchange,” Hockey told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio today. Asked whether there are national interest questions to be answered, Hockey said: “Of course there are.”

Yesterday’s agreed takeover requires approval from Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan. Independent member of parliament Bob Katter yesterday called the proposed sale of the country’s main stock exchange “lunacy on a grand scale.”

“The stock exchange itself would be acting in the best interests of its shareholders, and I can understand that, but it’s up to the treasurer of Australia to act in the best interests of our nation,” Hockey said on ABC radio.

Magnus Bocker, chief executive officer of the Singapore Exchange, and ASX Chief Executive Officer Robert Elstone said yesterday in Sydney that they’re confident the deal will win regulatory approval. The combination is in the national interest of both countries, Elstone said during a media briefing.

If approved by regulatory authorities in Singapore and Australia, the deal will create the world’s fifth-largest exchange company by market value and will be the first Asian cross-border merger of an exchange operator.

ASX shares today fell 3.4 percent to A$40.32 at 10:14 a.m. in Sydney trading. The stock surged 19 percent yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Angus Whitley in Sydney at awhitley1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Philip Lagerkranser at lagerkranser@bloomberg.net

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