Dubai: Qatar yesterday joined the fray to gain control of European stock exchanges as the state-owned Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) made a $2 billion bid for the 31 per cent stake owned by Nasdaq in London Stock Stock Exchange, the UK's Sunday Times reported yesterday.

Analysts said the European stock market consolidation is emerging as a global fight for supremacy with Middle East and Asian bidders vying for a bigger slice of pan-European market operations.

According to reports, QIA has approached UBS, the investment bank that has been mandated by Nasdaq, to sell its stake. Qatar has shown its willingness to pay $30 with a premium of 9.8 per cent over Friday's closing price, valuing LSE at about $6 billion, the report said. QIA officials were not available for comment when contacted by Gulf News yesterday.

If Qatar is to buy the entire lot of shares held by Nasdaq, it will automatically trigger a full-scale bid, according to an investment banker. Temasek, a Singapore government supported investment company, has already shown interest in acquiring Nasdaq's stake. "Any kind of re-alignment is possible. With Qatar showing interest in European exchanges, a third bid for OMX or even an all-new bidding war breaking out for LSE cannot be ruled out," said a DIFC based investment banker.

Nasdaq and Borse Dubai are already locked in a bidding war for the control of Nordic Exchanges operator OMX. In May, Nasdaq agreed to buy OMX for $3.7 billion in cash and shares, Borse Dubai upped the offer with a $4 billion all cash bid on August 17.

"All the three contenders such as Borse Dubai, QIA and Temasek have sovereign support and have deep pockets. In the absence of any regulatory hitches, all three will have the resources to outbid a company like Nasdaq," said an M&A consultant.

Borse Dubai, which owns Dubai International Financial Exchange and Dubai Financial Market, sees great synergy in its OMX acquisition.

Who's where in race

New York Stock Exchange: Merged with Euronext, operator of five European markets, including Liffe, the London financial futures market.

London Stock Exchange: Had formal offers from Deutsche Borse, Euronext, Macquarie, the Australian bank, OMX and Nasdaq. Now, taking over Borsa Italiana.

Deutsche Bourse: Bidding for International Securities Exchange. Failed suitor for LSE and Euronext. Had a joint venture with Chicago Board of Trade.

Nasdaq: Owns 31 per cent in LSE and now attempting to sell the stake to cash to improve its earlier $3.7 billion bid to takeover OMX.

OMX: Swedish-Finnish financial services company that operates seven Nordic Exchanges.

Borse Dubai: Holding company of DIFX and DFM has made $4 billion bid for OMX.

Temasek: Singapore-owned investment company trying to buy Nasdaq's stake in LSE.

QIA: Qatar-owned investment company reportedly outbidding Temasek to acquire Nasdaq's shares in LSE.