Updated from 1:34 p.m. EDT
Two weeks after swearing off interest in the London Stock Exchange, the
said Tuesday that it is in possession of almost 15% of the U.K. company's outstanding shares.
The Nasdaq said it owns 38.1 million LSE shares, having bought the vast majority from the exchange's biggest institutional shareholder,
unit Threadneedle Asset Management.
The Nasdaq said it acquired 35.4 million shares from Threadneedle and another 2.7 million in a separate purchase. The total price for the stake was $782 million.
On March 31, the Nasdaq withdrew a $4.2 billion offer for the whole LSE in a move that many believed ended the international takeover drama for the exchange. In a brief statement released at the time, the Nasdaq said that it "no longer intends to make an offer for the LSE." It didn't give a reason.
However, the New York-based company said it "reserved the right" to renew the offer under certain circumstances over the next six months.
The LSE interest announced Tuesday actually equals 14.99% of the LSE's outstanding stock. According to U.K. rules governed by the London Takeover Panel, that's the maximum stake a company can acquire on the open market within one week's time. Representatives of the Nasdaq would not comment on when the stake was bought.
The same rules say a company can raise its stake to just below 30% of the target before it needs to launch a formal offer to all shareholders
One way or the other, the Nasdaq has positioned itself for a potentially lucrative stake in the company. At the very least, the 1,175 pence per share it paid for the 14.99% stake sets a new floor for a bid for the company if other exchanges decide to explore an acquisition.
The Nasdaq publicly disclosed its now-withdrawn unsolicited offer for the LSE on March 10. The bid, which comprised cash and looked to be contingent on a large slug of bank financing, was 60% higher than a previous offer for the London exchange made by Australia's Macquarie Bank. It was 72% above the LSE's closing price before the Macquarie bid surfaced.
The LSE recommended shareholders reject both the Nasdaq and Macquarie offers.