ECONOMY

ATHEX closer to Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA – The bourses of Vienna and Athens remain in the race for 81 percent of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange, a company representing the owners of the Slovenian bourse said yesterday. They were chosen out of four binding bids submitted in March, managing director of Arkas, Andrej Zejn, told Reuters. The other bidders were the Warsaw bourse and the Nordic exchange operator OMX, he said. «The price offered was the main factor in choosing the best bidders,» Zejn said, but declined to give details. He said the chosen bidders will now be able to perform due diligence, with the sale process expected to be completed by the end of June. Zejn said the stake up for sale had been increased to 81 percent from 64.15 percent originally offered in February, when initial, non-binding bids were due. «The best two bidders offered not only the highest price but also accepted commitments to maintain the seat of Ljubljana stock exchange in Slovenia, to continue developing capital markets in Slovenia and not to increase the fees for the exchange’s services,» Arkas said in a statement. It said the preferred bidder will need approval from the Slovenian securities and antitrust agencies before sealing the deal. There are 188 securities listed on the Ljubljana bourse, which has market capitalization of 22.2 billion euros. The exchange is owned mostly by local banks and brokerages. Average daily turnover in March amounted to 6.1 million euros. Last year, bourse owners rejected a bid by OMX, which offered 125.19 euros per share, valuing the exchange at 4.2 million euros. According to the local media, the current bids are expected to be significantly above that and could reach around 700 euros per share.