March 4 () - Norwegian exchange operator Oslo Bors has recommended that its shareholders accept a sweetened buyout offer made by U.S.-based Nasdaq Inc on Monday, and reject a bid from Euronext.
Nasdaq is the preferred owner for Oslo Bors from an "industrial and strategic perspective," Oslo Bors said, reiterating earlier statements endorsing Nasdaq's bid.
Earlier on Monday, Nasdaq raised its offer price for Oslo Bors to about 6.8 billion Norwegian crowns ($789 million), matching a rival offer by Paris-based Euronext.
The higher offer came after Euronext raised its own bid to 158 crowns per share on Feb. 11, just before its opening gambit of 145 crowns was due to expire.
The bidding battle for one of the last independent stock markets in northern Europe stems from the need to combine resources to develop technology and attract new entrants.
Nasdaq said it would pay an interest of 6 percent per annum on the increased offer price, until the conditions required for closing the deal are fulfilled or waived.
It also reduced the minimum acceptance condition under the offer from more than 90 percent of shareholders of Oslo Bors to at least two-thirds, which is required to make any changes to the by-laws of the target company.
"We remain confident that our offer is the superior solution for the shareholders, members, issuers, investors and employees of Oslo Bors VPS," Nasdaq Chief Executive Officer Adena Friedman said.
Euronext made its first offer in late December with the backing of slightly more than half of Oslo Bors shareholders, but did not win over the exchange's board, which then convinced Nasdaq to make a higher bid.
Oslo Bors Chief Executive Bente Landsnes told last month that she backs Nasdaq's proposal, which also has the support from the largest shareholder, Norwegian bank DNB.
A Euronext spokeswoman insisted the company has secured a little more than half of Oslo Bors's shares with its offer. Euronext has said their commitment is "irrevocable".
The Euronext offer expires on March 11.
On Monday, Nasdaq said it had the support of one-third of Oslo Bors shareholders. These shareholders also reaffirmed their intention not to accept the offer made by Euronext, the company said.
Shares in Nasdaq were down 1.6 percent at $90.55 in morning trade in New York. Oslo Bors shares ended unchanged at 160 crowns. ($1 = 8.6089 Norwegian crowns)