Singapore stock exchange has sweetened its $8 billion bid for the
Australian Securities Exchange, promising equal Australian board
representation and that key ASX staff, assets and operations would
But the move - aimed at easing concerns about the
sale of an Australian financial icon - failed to silence key political
opponents and could face a private member's bill to derail it as well as
a Senate inquiry into its implications for the nation.
addition to the guarantees on board representation on the merged entity,
staff and operations, Singapore Exchange Limited (SGX) also pledged to
invest in, develop and introduce new products and services in Australia
SGX said the revised offer would "strengthen the
development of the financial services sectors and the national interests
of both Australia and Singapore".
The proposal, unveiled last
October, which would create the fifth-largest securities market in the
world, has drawn fire from all sides of politics and run into public
opposition, with a UMR Research poll in December showing two-thirds of
Australians opposed the bid.
Last night, Queensland federal rural
independent MP Bob Katter likened the revised offer to "putting a dress
on a pig" and floated moving a private member's bill to scuttle it.
And South Australian independent senator Nick Xenophon said he had reservations about the bid and flagged a Senate inquiry.
SGX chief executive Magnus Bocker told The Australian yesterday's list
of guarantees was aimed at addressing concerns about the bid and
signalled an application would be lodged within weeks with the Foreign
Investment Review Board.
Mr Bocker would be visiting key capitals, including Canberra, "explaining why this is in the national interest".
is definitely answering a lot of the questions we received, a lot of
concerns we heard," he said of the new offer. He said the merger of the
Singapore and Australian exchanges would build the Australian services
sector and the new board structure would be "very balanced".
is a question of creating jobs (in Australia), not taking out jobs. It
is a question of committing ourselves to investment, to be competitive,
to have the right fee structures, to add new products and services," he
said. Under the new bid, SGX chairman Chew Choon Seng would be chairman
of the combined group and ASX chairman David Gonski would be deputy
chairman as well as chairman of the ASX-SGX integration committee. ASX
and all of its subsidiaries - as well as ASX Compliance - would maintain
boards with a majority of Australian citizen directors and an
Australian as chair.
The new bid promises to continue existing
regulatory oversight and that any changes to listing rules and ASX
operating rules would be scrutinised by the Australian Securities &
Wayne Swan declined to comment yesterday
but rural independent Rob Oakeshott called on the government to "get
going" in considering the deal.
"Delay is not an option and leads to uncertainty," Mr Oakeshott said.
Katter, flagging a private member's bill to scuttle the deal, said it
amounted to "selling the mechanisms of your society by which your
"It's not like selling a chook factory or canvas bag factory - what goes for sale next, the High Court?
"You can put a dress on a pig but it's still a pig - that's what is occurring here."