How to win the bid for the London Stock Exchange

Tomorrow's Business

Foreign firms have been trying to buy the London Stock Exchange since at least 2000. The Germans (twice), the Swedes, the Aussies, the Americans, and the Canadians have all made tilts and all been sent packing due to a combination of regulatory, political and shareholder concerns.

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is the latest to have a crack and I can’t see that it is any more likely to succeed.

Since I’ve reported on all of those losing bids I feel it’s fair to say that each one was partly a failure of PR.

What none of the bidders succeeded in establishing was why, in plain English, a takeover of the LSE was good for anyone but the buyers.

Hacks across town sat in tedious briefings full of almost impossible to understand jargon which left us none the wiser. If you look at the coverage of this bid so far it mostly skirts around the rationale for the deal, because that rationale is hard to explain.

We’ll allow that hacks are a bit thick, if you like, but surely not thicker than the average government minister.

If I were doing the PR, I’d tell the client we need five bullet points using words of no more than two syllables explaining why Hong Kong buying London is good.

If those bullet points don’t fit onto a note the size of a credit card, they are too long, and this bid will join the others in the bin.

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