The London Stock Exchange late Wednesday pulled out of its $3.5 billion merger with Canada’s TMX Group leaving the door open for a possible hostile takeover from Maple Group.

It also opens the possibility for the LSE to find itself a takeover target.

In a statement, the LSE said that it hadn’t won enough support from TMX’s investors in early proxy voting. : “Based on proxy information received in Canada by TMX Group, a majority of TMX Group shareholder proxies have voted in favour of the merger," said the LSE. "However, [we] and TMX Group believe that the merger is highly unlikely to achieve the required two-thirds majority approval at the TMX Group shareholder meeting.”

Nasdaq OMX, which tried twice and failed to buy the LSE in 2006 and 2007 is now considered to the LSE’s prime suitor. Nasdaq OMX recently confirmed it made a bid to buy a minority stake in LCH.Clearnet, Europe's largest clearing house, in a move to strengthen its foothold in the region.

TMX’s shareholders were set to vote on Thursday between the LSE's bid and a rival hostile offer from Maple Group.The Canadian consortium of 13 financial firms had offered $3.7 billion in the hope of convincing TMX investors to keep the exchange in Canadian hands. Any deal will likely face anti-trust scrutiny from Canadian regulators.

Supporters of the LSE’s offer had argued that its merger would give TMX, which operates the Toronto and Montreal exchanges, a greater presence among global markets. However, critics were worried that TMX’s two main businesses in Toronto and Montreal would fall under foreign control.



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