US stock market operator Nasdaq withdrew its bid today to takeover Norwegian stock market operator Oslo Bors, leaving pan-European competitor Euronext as the sole bidder.
Euronext secured approval this month from Norway's Ministry of Finance for its purchase of more than 50% of the shares of the Oslo Bors, effectively blocking Nasdaq's bid after a five-month fight.
Both had offered 158 Norwegian crowns per share for Oslo Bors, valuing one of Europe's last independent stock market operators at around 6.8 billion Norwegian crowns ($783m).
But the view of the Norwegian government was crucial.
Norway rejected Nasdaq's argument that no takeover should be allowed unless a two-thirds stake was obtained, a demand that could have blocked Euronext as the US company had secured backing from around 35% of owners.
Nasdaq had won the support of more than a third of Oslo Bors shareholders including the Norwegian market operator's major shareholders DNB and KLP.
Nasdaq said today it would release those owners from their obligations.
Both Euronext, which runs exchanges in Dublin, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Lisbon, and Nasdaq are looking to expand their portfolios.
But opportunities are scarce as market operators either already belong to international groups or their shareholders want to remain independent.