Playing hard-to-get is risky, particularly in a multibillion-dollar takeover battle. But it's a risk the London Stock Exchange chose to take, and now that the Nasdaq ( NDAQ) has walked away from a $4.2 billion hostile offer, shareholders might have to wait a while before another suitor materializes. Over the past month, New York and London have buzzed with speculation that NYSE Group ( NYSE) would try to up the Nasdaq's ante with its own proposal for the LSE. With the pressure now off, however, the NYSE -- which came public this month through a merger with Archipelago -- can afford to take its time. Moreover, a bid from the NYSE would be fraught with hurdles, first among them the high price the LSE seems bent on collecting in any transatlantic transaction. In addition, the NYSE is still trying to integrate its own merger and is considered a virgin issuer in U.S. debt and equity markets. Another problem could be a shareholder base that includes one owner that has not shown a fondness for exchange mergers in the past: hedge fund Atticus Capital. Last May, Atticus, along with other shareholders, helped stop the Deutsche Borse from pursuing its own bid for the LSE. The shareholders' aggressive stance, which went against dowdy German etiquette, turned into an ugly battle that ended with exchange Chairman Rolf Breuer leaving his post. Atticus owns its stake in the NYSE because of shares it acquired in Archipelago last year. Its exposure was once 6% of Archipelago, but is probably lower now due to the dilution created by the merger, which closed March 8. The position is also somewhat exotic. Atticus raised its stake in Archipelago last fall through a series of total-return equity swaps that enables the fund to participate in the stock through a derivative contract. By the end of last year Atticus owned 5.6 million shares of Archipelago but had an interest in an additional 1.5 million notional shares of the company through the equity swap.