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LSE on track for Refinitiv takeover despite regulator’s questions

By August Graham, PA City Reporter

The London Stock Exchange Group is on track to complete its 27 billion US dollar (£21 billion) takeover of data provider Refinitiv, despite questions from European regulators.

The megamerger was endorsed by LSE shareholders in November last year, but the European Commission is scrutinising the deal.

“These are two complementary businesses and, since the announcement, we expected a thorough review,” chief executive David Schwimmer said on Friday.

He said both businesses are large scale and have many different products that could be examined. A formal filing is due later this spring.

“We look forward to filing with the European Commission in March, and we are still, from our perspective, on track for closing in the second half of this year.”

Mr Schwimmer said the questions from the EU are “the kind … we would have expected”.

“We are not surprised, we are constructively engaging with the regulators, and that is part of the process,” he added.

Shareholders in the London Stock Exchange Group overwhelmingly backed the massive deal in November, with 99.2% of their votes behind it.

The chief executive refused to be drawn on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, saying it is too early to say.

Some parts of the business will be boosted by market volatility, he said, while others will face problems.

LSE employees face travel restrictions to some countries, Mr Schwimmer added, but he declined to reveal any details.

It comes as the business reported that profit before tax hit £651 million in 2019, a drop from 2018’s £685 million, on revenue of around £2.05 billion, a 7.6% rise.

Adjusted operating profit was up 14% to more than £1.06 billion.

Mr Schwimmer said: “It was another strong year for London Stock Exchange Group – delivering a good financial performance, making meaningful progress executing on our strategic objectives, and taking significant steps on a number of group-wide initiatives.”