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Reports: Carlyle Was In Initial Talks To Take Nasdaq Private

North American stock exchange Nasdaq OMX Group, Inc. (NDAQ), which has been looking for a buyer, is said to have been in initial talks with private-equity firm Carlyle Group LP (CG) for last three weeks to take it private, according to media reports on Monday. Carlyle CFO Adena Friedman is said to have brokered the talks with Nasdaq, where she has previously served in a similar role.

Amid the consolidation among global stock exchanges, the New York-based exchange has been looking for buyers or joint-venture partners, but has not been able to strike the right valuation. It has reportedly had talks with CME Group, Inc. (CME) on a joint-venture, and also been in talks with two other private equity firms in the past year.

Meanwhile, Nasdaq has been in potential talks with the London Stock Exchange Group (LSE.L) also for some time for a merger deal.

The talks with Carlyle were initiated amid the back drop of ICE-NYSE merger, that created a larger rival for Nasdaq. The talks with Carlyle is also said to have fallen apart within a month over disagreement on market valuation.

IntercontinentalExchange, Inc. (ICE) agreed in mid-December to acquire NYSE Euronext Inc. (NYX), the parent of the New York Stock Exchange, for about $8.2 billion in stock and cash.

The ICE-NYSE merger comes nearly two years after ICE and Nasdaq OMX launched a joint hostile $11.3 billion bid for NYSE. However, the two companies were forced to retreat in May 2011 after their takeover plan was opposed by U.S. antitrust officials.

There were some other deal that were shot down by global antitrust regulators. NYSE Euronext plans to merge with Germany Stock Exchange Deutsche Boerse AG (DBOEF.PK, DBOEY.PK) was also scuttled by European Union regulators in February 2012. The two exchanges mutually agreed to terminate their merger deal that was agreed upon in February 2011.

Prior to that, London Stock Exchange in February 2011 agreed to combine with Toronto-based TMX Group, Inc. (X.TO, TSX_X.TO), and in October 2010, Singapore Exchange Ltd. agreed to buy Australia-based ASX Ltd. for about A$8.4 billion. Both the deals failed to materialize.

Meanwhile, Nasdaq in mid-December agreed to acquire the investor relations, public relations and multimedia solutions businesses of Thomson Reuters Corp. (TRI, TRI.TO) for $390 million in cash. The deal, subject to regulatory approvals, is expected to close in the first half of 2013.

Carlyle Group most recently completed its acquisition of DuPont Performance Coatings or DPC, business of Chemicals giant EI DuPont de Nemours & Co. (DD), commonly called DuPont, for $4.9 billion. DuPont agreed to sell its DPC business to Carlyle in late August.

NDAQ closed Monday's regular trading session at $30.38, up $0.91 or 3.09% on a volume of 6.71 million shares, sharply higher than the three-month average volume of 1.44 million shares. CG closed at $32.50. up $0.33 or 1.03% on a volume of 0.11 million shares.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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