The excellent National Post published on Thursday June the 16th a follow up to the still ongoing imbroglio surrounding LSE’s bid for TMX, versus the local bid presented by the Maple Group created out of several canadian banks and pension funds. Xavier Rolet, CEO of the LSE, and Thomas Kloet, chief executive of TMX Group Inc, paid a visit to corporate Quebec on last Wednesday in a Marriott Hotel ballroom. They went there basically to try wining over the opinion of Quebec’s financial elite who had nevertheless already presented a counter-offer through the Maple Group for the acquisition of TMX. As Premier Jean Charest does endorse Maple Group’s bid and that the Group includes many financial institutions based in Quebec, the task ahead was difficult.
First, we must all admit that Xavier Rolet does what he has to do: he gives his sales pitch like a professional. He presents arguments, elements of interest, etc, to try to win over a favorable opinion. As an example, he even said that Maple’s bid was based on « worry and fear ». Now, that’s a big statement but it misses the point. Those who back LSE’s bid think there is no problem with it, since Canada is an open market economy. O.K. But again, that’s not the point. TMX-LSE merger has been presented, from the start, as a « merger of equals » . I am not inventing it, these are their own words. But when you end up with only 45% of the shares, compared to 55% for the opposing merging company, that’s not a « merger of equals », it is an acquisition, a take-over in disguise. I am not an economist. I don’t even have an undergraduate degree in mathematics. But I know my numbers. 45 doesn’t equal 55. Period. Whatever way you want to put it, these two numbers will never equal. Are you taking us for fools?
Second, on a Canadian nationalist point of view, the mere fact of handing over our collective wallet to somebody else, in this case another country, to manage it in our place, is utterly stupid, irresponsible, childish and immature. I don’t care what you, at the LSE, can say. I know my numbers. Having the upper hand, you will make decisions for your own interests and that’s normal, that’s human nature. I am not blaming you for that, but don’t take us for fools.
Third, now on a Quebec nationalist point of view, it’s even worse. We already lost a lot since the merger with the Toronto Stock Exchange. That would be the ultimate submission if we were to have a bunch of British citizens, who used to be our conquerers and rulers, to manage our funds in our place. Thank you very much, but I think we would rather look forward to the 21st century. We are not in the 19th century anymore. Colonialism is kind of out of date.
Fourth, and for that one I invite you to read my earlier post, the real reason why the LSE wants to acquire the TMX is to be able to control the world’s resources. It is so obvious. You thought nobody would see that, LSE? I think the TMX stock exchange is a great asset for Canada. I would even venture to say that it is almost a matter of national security, the financial one, at least. Once we got it, we keep it. Is that understood? You see, I am not the only one who think this way. Just read the wonderful letter that the Maple Group has published in the National Post on June 16th. Luc Bertrand, Vice-President at the National Bank and main representative for the Maple Group, recalls with a great sens of repartee what Chris Gibson-Smith, LSE Board Chair, told London’s Daily Telegraph about the original deal:
« London’s got the chief executive, board dominance; the whole company will be regulated by the FSA. I don’t think London has lost anything, but we’ve gained Canada » .
Still think it is a « merger of equals » ? It will be you, TMX shareholders, who may have the last word. Don’t be fooled. It is not a merger, it is a take-over. If you vote in favor of LSE’s bid, either Quebec’s Autorité des marchés financiers will veto it, or Industry Minister Christian Paradis will have no other choice but to reject the deal. This deal is not just a matter of business. It is mostly and foremost about economic and financial sovereignty. Deutsche Boerse has made a similar move when they bid to acquire NYSE Euronext, this winter as well. There seems to be a desire from Stock Exchanges in Europe to take over North America. What is going on? What do we have that they don’t? Why such a sudden interest in our collectives wallets?
By the way, I noticed that you, the TMX, rejected Maple’s bid on Friday May the 20th, only 5 days after it was announced on May the 15th. Is it a coincidence if May the 20th is the anniversary of the lost referendum of 1980? I don’t think so. You want to tell us something? Now it is time, if you really care about Canada — after all it is your country — that you behave responsibly and accept Maple’s bid. You must make decisions that serve the interests of your fellow citizens and of your country, not those of strangers overseas, or your own. Think about it. We are working hard to make it work once and for all. Don’t screw it, please.