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BME/SIX: Spanish govt to stick to timetable despite COVID-19 crisis - sources

Spain’s government plans to stick with its timetable for analysing SIX Group's takeover of stock exchange operator Bolsas y Mercados Españoles [BME:BME] despite the lockdown due to the COVID-19 crisis, four sources familiar with the situation said.

The formal deadline is 6 May, the first source said.

The Spanish government’s new golden share rules will have no impact on the deal, three of the sources said.

In a press conference unveiling measures to combat the economic impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus), Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that in order to protect the companies on the Spanish bourse, his government has reformed investment regulations to impede businesses from outside the European Union obtaining control of entities in strategic sectors.

The spirit of the law is to protect companies from opportunistic bids due to low prices, said one source familiar with the situation, adding that it isn’t designed to stop the takeover of BME by its Swiss rival.

Earlier today (Tuesday), SIX’s CEO Jos Dijsselhof told reporters and analysts that “nothing has changed at all” due to the disease outbreak. “The rationale of the transaction is about medium longer-term value and these motivations are still valid in our intention to acquire BME,” he said, adding that he sees no reason to revise the price.

Spokespeople for SIX and BME declined to comment. The Spanish Ministry for Economic Affairs & Digital Transformation also declined to comment, as did the country’s National Securities Market Commission (CNMV), which has to advise the government on the bid.

SIX has a clear path to regulatory approval, possibly with conditions, this news service reported in January.

SIX is offering EUR 34 per share for BME. BME's shares are currently trading at EUR 28.34.

by Rupert Cocke in Madrid, with additional reporting by Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro

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