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ASX fumes over NZSE's comments

By Nicholas Bryant

Friday 14th July 2000

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Frustration is building among members of the Australian Stock Exchange over dealings with its counterpart on this side of the Tasman.

Relations between the two exchanges have become strained during months of polite posturing over whether an amalgamation of the two exchanges was being considered.

Sources close to the ASX said management was fuming over outgoing NZSE chairman Eion Edgar's assertion last week that the locals could teach the Australians a thing or two about running a cheap, efficient Stock Exchange.

The Australians made official comment yesterday after Finance Minister Michael Cullen told a business gathering in Sydney the government would support a decision to merge the two exchanges.

In his speech Dr Cullen said he was "aware the two exchanges had discussed the prospect of an eventual amalgamation."

But ASX spokesman Gervase Green said that was simply not the case.

"While the ASX welcomes and applauds the minister's emphasis on needing a global outlook and agrees with that view, there is no proposal to merge with the NZSE. It is an entirely hypothetical issue," Mr Green said.

It is understood the ASX made it clear some time ago it would be receptive to a merger but the NZSE was not clear about which option it preferred.

Sources said Mr Edgar's comments may have damaged any goodwill to broker a deal which would be sweet for the smaller partner, especially given his belief the NZSE's 25 employees represented efficiency over the ASX's 500.

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