Hong Kong drops its bid for the London Stock Exchange Group

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing has dropped its bid to acquire the London Stock Exchange Group.

A takeover by Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) would have created the world's third-biggest stock exchange behind the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq in terms of the value of companies listed on those markets, according to the operators' data.

"Today, disappointingly, we announced our decision not to proceed with a firm offer for London Stock Exchange Group," said Charles Li, CEO of HKEX, in a blog post. "We still believe the strategic rationale for the combination of our two businesses is compelling and would create a world-leading market infrastructure group."

However, Li said pursuing a "combination of the two businesses would not be in the best interests of our own shareholders."

In a statement, the board of the London Stock Exchange Group noted the announcement and said it would continue with its planned acquisition of Refinitiv, a financial data provider. Its shares fell by nearly 5%.

The HKEX initially made a £30 billion ($37 billion) bid for the LSE in September. It proposed to combine the two companies in a cash and share deal worth £29.6 billion, or £31.6 billion ($39 billion) including debt.

But the London Stock Exchange roundly rejected that bid, saying it was too low, politically risky and lacked strategic merit.