Global exchange group Nasdaq OMX is planning to merge the trading on its three Baltic exchanges – Tallinn (Estonia), Riga (Latvia) and Vilnius (Lithuania) – onto a single new venue.
The single marketplace is slated for launch in the first half of 2010, subject to member readiness and regulatory approval, and will use the euro as its sole trading and settlement currency.
The exchange will be set up on the same trading platform as Nasdaq OMX’s existing regulated markets, with no additional access costs for current members and investors. It will offer trading in all shares listed across the three exchanges including the Baltic Main list and the Baltic Secondary list.
“Nasdaq OMX is committed to improving the liquidity in the exchanges in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and we believe that launching a single-currency trading venue will be beneficial to all market participants, listed companies and investors locally and internationally,” said Hans-Ole Jochumsen, president, Nasdaq OMX Nordic, in a statement. “Trading and settling in one currency for the members and investors will increase the accessibility to the Baltic market and thereby make it more attractive”.
Trading on the existing regulated markets in local currencies will continue after the launch of the new marketplace but the majority of trading is expected to move to the new trading venue. The exact launch date will be decided together with the members, respective central banks and financial supervisory authorities as well as other stakeholders.
Furthermore, minority shareholders in Nasdaq OMX’s Baltic trading venues have agreed to sell their stakes back to the exchange group.
The shareholders include Swedish banking group SEB, which had a 12.1% holding in Nasdaq OMX Tallinn and a separate stake in Nasdaq OMX Vilnius, and Swedbank, which had a 13.2% stake in Nasdaq OMX Tallinn. Nasdaq OMX’s aim is to reach 100% ownership in all its Baltic exchanges in the near future.
According to Nasdaq OMX, the acquisition is a further step in a joint co-operation initiative between itself, SEB, Swedbank, East Capital and other Nordic banks operating on the Baltic markets to revamp the local capital markets.
“We are pleased to announce this agreement together with SEB and Swedbank, and happy to start executing on our joint vision of revitalising the Baltic capital markets”, commented Jochumsen. “The cooperation initiative is open to any market participant interested in increasing the attractiveness of these capital markets”.
”For SEB and all other market participants in the Baltic countries it is important to grow the size and improve the liquidity of these markets,” added Annika Falkengren, CEO and president of SEB. “The sale of our shares is an important step in this direction and is positive not only to us but to the region as a whole.”