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Maple says it aims to extend TMX takeover bid

A consortium bidding for TMX Group (X-T) said on Friday it aims to extend its $3.8-billion bid for the country's biggest stock exchange operator, but it could not guarantee it would do so as it was still working to resolve regulatory concerns over the deal.

Shares of TMX jumped after Maple Group, comprised of 13 Canadian financial institutions, said that the Competition Bureau and the Ontario Securities Commission were coordinating their reviews of the proposed takeover.

Critics of the deal worry that it would concentrate too much power in the hands of a single market and clearing operator controlled by the country's dominant financial institutions.

In a statement, Maple signaled that any conditions that the provincial securities regulator might place on the deal could ease what the federal Competition Bureau had earlier described as its serious concerns.

The stock's 6-percent rise was its biggest one-day gain since May 16, 2011, around the same time Maple offered to buy the operator of the Toronto Stock Exchange for $50 a share.

The bid, which has been extended six times already, is due to expire on April 30.

Maple said the Competition Bureau had provided input to the OSC even though the two were conducting independent reviews.

The OSC is completing a set of conditions, known as draft recognition orders, under which it might allow the proposed deal to proceed.

As part of its proposal, Maple wants to buy the Canadian Depository for Securities Ltd, or CDS, which clears and settles all trades in Canada, and fold it into TMX, the operator of most of the country's securities exchanges.

That has spurred fears that clearing and settlement of transactions would favor Maple shareholders, which include Canada's top banks, insurers, big pension fund managers and some broker-dealers.

Another area of concern is that the CDS would turn into a for-profit model from its current cost-recovery model, which could open the door to price hikes. To get the deal done, Maple has said it is ready to give the OSC a role in overseeing clearing and settlement pricing.

Another sticking point is Maple's plan to acquire Alpha Group, TMX's biggest domestic competitor. Alpha -- once a so-called alternative trading system that now has full status as an exchange -- is owned by some of the members of the Maple consortium. Such concentration of power must be supervised, critics say.

The combined TMX-Alpha entity would control some 85 percent of all stock trades in Canada.

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