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LSE CFO still expects cross-border consolidation in exchange industry

London Stock Exchange Group Plc CFO David Warren said the strategic rationale for cross-border deals involving exchange companies still exists, and he expects big names in the industry to continue pursuing global consolidation despite the political challenges.

The European Commission blocking LSE's proposed merger with Deutsche Börse AG — the third time a tie-up between the two has failed — hasn't changed the logic behind those types of deals, Warren said. Clients want international solutions to assist with all aspects of their business, whether it's their capital markets activity or their post-trade and collateral management, he added.

"Customers are increasingly global and what they want are global solutions," Warren said during a June 8 presentation at the Sandler O'Neill Brokerage & Exchange Conference in New York.

Exchange operators have diversified into financial markets infrastructure companies, he said, yet no one company has all of the offerings to fully serve clients globally, and it's impossible to build such a business organically.

"That is one reason why the logic [for mergers] is still there," he said. "So I do believe further consolidation will happen."

Warren projected a wave of combinations that eventually takes the number of exchange operators down to three or four, although he didn't give a timeframe for such consolidation and he acknowledged that the deals face a number of hurdles. Transactions have to satisfy clients, political leaders, regulators and shareholders, all with their own constraints and agendas, he noted, and completing deals is extremely complicated and time-consuming.

"But I don't think that will stop us from continuing to try," he said.