Hong Kong -- the stock exchange, a powerful national symbol of capitalist influence, on Wednesday made a surprise bid for its rival in London that could set off a cross-continental tug-of-war.
The Hong Kong Stock Exchange has offered to buy the London Stock Exchange for $36.6bn, a deal that would create a market giant and a marriage of the top exchanges in Europe and Asia that would create a formidable rival to the leading us exchanges.
港交所主动提出以366亿美元收购伦敦证券交易所(London Stock Exchange)，该交易一旦实现，将创造出一个市场巨头，欧亚顶尖交易所的联姻，将构成一个敢于挑战美国主要交易所的强大竞争对手。
Hong Kong officials said Wednesday that merging the two exchanges would allow companies and investors to profit from an 18-hour-a-day stock and bond trading platform.
However, the proposed deal comes at a painful time for the UK and Hong Kong amid economic, political and social turmoil that is jeopardising their status as regional financial centres.
In Hong Kong, China's efforts to control the semi-autonomous territory have sparked weeks of angry protests. In Britain, the government is in disarray over plans to leave the European Union, which could lead to economic austerity.
Hong Kong's proposal would require Britain to give up one of its crown jewels, which dates back to 1571. London's centuries-old status as a leading financial centre has been called into question by brexit.
Compared with other western countries, Britain is more open to investment from China and Hong Kong. Hong Kong tycoon li ka-shing has been investing in British infrastructure for years; London did not take immediate action on pressure from Washington not to use equipment from huawei, the Chinese telecoms equipment maker. But the protests in Hong Kong have brought the issue of China's influence to the forefront.
The Chinese government is the largest shareholder in hkex, with six seats on its 13-member board; Beijing's reaction to the antigovernment demonstrations in Hong Kong is likely to cause British officials to watch closely for signs of Chinese influence. Andrea Leadsom, the business secretary, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Wednesday that regulators would "look very carefully at any incident that has an impact on the safety of the UK".
中国政府是港交所的最大股东，在其13名董事会成员中拥有6个席位；北京对香港反政府示威活动的反应，可能会导致英国官员密切关注是否存在中国政府施加影响的迹象。英国商务大臣安德烈娅·利德索姆(Andrea Leadsom)周三在接受彭博电视(Bloomberg Television)电视采访时表示，监管机构将“非常仔细地调查任何对英国安全有影响的事件”。
Foreign takeovers of UK companies have previously been blocked or delayed for similar reasons, such as the proposed takeover of Northern Aerospace by a Chinese rival last year. Last year, the British government announced plans to sharply increase scrutiny of foreign takeovers, with particular focus on those from China.
The proposed takeover in Hong Kong is the latest in a decade-long wave of consolidation on global stock exchanges. The move comes as the world's stock exchanges struggle to withstand the onslaught of emerging competitors and new technology that threatens to eliminate trading in traditional markets.
Both Hong Kong and the lse are looking for merger partners. They and other exchanges are crossing borders to better attract companies that no longer view one country as their base. Us executives, for example, frequently travel to Asia to try to persuade fast-growing private companies to list in the us rather than Hong Kong or Tokyo.
The stock exchange changed. In the United States, the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq are now part of a broader, more global company.
证券交易所因此发生了变化。在美国，纽约证券交易所(New York Stock Exchange)和纳斯达克(Nasdaq)现在都是更广泛、更全球化公司的一部分。
Lse, in particular, is a coveted target: Deutsche Borse and the Toronto Stock Exchange have both tried and failed to buy it in the past decade.
伦敦证交所集团尤其是其他交易所觊觎的目标：过去10年，德意志交易所(Deutsche Borse)和多伦多证交所(Toronto Stock Exchange)都曾尝试收购它，但均以失败告终。
To cement its position as an independent company, lse last month agreed to buy data provider Refinitiv for $27 billion. The pending deal makes a Hong Kong bid even more unlikely because it would make the exchange bigger than its Asian rival.
Hkex's interest surprised lse's management.
Executives from the two exchanges met Monday, according to people familiar with the matter. British executives had expected the meeting to be an informal discussion of the state of the industry.
As a result, Hong Kong officials announced they wanted to buy lse for nearly $37 billion.
Less than 48 hours later, the Hong Kong company went public with its offer, hoping for strong shareholder support for the deal.
Under the terms of the offer, the Hong Kong company will pay about 8,361p a share in cash and shares as of September 10, a 23 per cent premium to lse's share price.
Under current UK takeover rules, hkex has 28 days to either make a confirmed offer to lse or walk away.
It is not clear what will happen. Shares in the London stock exchange group rose 6.6 percent to 7, 254 pence on Wednesday. That is still below the hkex offer, suggesting that the London company's shareholders are sceptical that a deal can be done.
In a statement, the exchange said it would consider an unsolicited offer from its Hong Kong counterpart but remained committed to completing the $27bn acquisition of rover. That deal will push lse further into selling and managing market data, which has been growing in importance and profitability for exchanges.
But supporters of the Hong Kong offer are likely to argue that being part of a Eurasian giant is a more reliable business bet than buying rover, which has long lagged Bloomberg L.P. in market data.
Li xiaojia, chief executive of hkex's parent company, said on a conference call with the media on Wednesday that lse's acquisition of rover had prompted his company to rush to bid. "We know we're late," he said. "we can't be late."
The offer comes amid political turmoil at the exchanges' headquarters. The British government remains clueless about how Britain should leave the European Union, and business remains in the dark about what impact brexit will have on London's place on the world business stage.
Hong Kong, meanwhile, has been thrown into turmoil by massive demonstrations by protesters who see Beijing as becoming more assertive in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory, which has its own laws and which international companies and investors find more attractive than mainland conditions.
On Wednesday, Mr. Li dismissed Suggestions that the exchange wanted to loosen its ties with China. He pointed to London's ambition to become a global centre for renminbi trading and said hkex could help achieve that goal. The Chinese government tightly restricts the flow of its currency across borders, but some Chinese officials have openly discussed a day when the yuan would be as widely used around the world as the dollar, giving China a bigger voice in the global financial system. If London becomes a trading hub for the yuan, more Chinese companies and investors will see London as an even more attractive place to do business.
Mr. Li dismissed concerns about a Chinese company buying an iconic British company. He points out that hkex has controlled the lme for seven years, investing in the British platform and keeping it out of China's hands.
We are not a Chinese company, or even a pure Hong Kong company, Mr. Li said. "We are a global company."