Photo: Directorate for Cultural Heritage

The history in words and pictures

Oslo Børs is celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2019. Today, Oslo Børs is a hub for Norway’s modern national financial economy with significant global connections. Its secondary market is liquid, it is regarded as attractive by international investors, and it is faring well in what is an increasingly competitive environment for stock exchanges. Its primary market is an increasingly important source of both debt and equity capital financing for Norway’s diverse range of businesses. Oslo Børs, without doubt, plays a valuable role in Norway’s distinctive mixed economy.

This situation, however, has a history. Oslo Børs was founded (as Christiania Børs) in 1819 to serve the interests of the merchant class in the new country’s capital city. It became the home of commerce, and it was a long time before it also became a venue for securities. It was an even longer time before securities trading came to dominate its activities. These webpages provide some information on the history of Oslo Børs and how it made the transition from commerce to finance.

As well as financial securities, prices for commodities were an important part of Oslo Børs’ activities before World War I. This image from 26 March 1909 shows the committees for various industries sitting at their designated tables to set the prices for their specific commodities. One of the current uses of the ‘Groschsalen’ room shown in the picture is breakfast functions, which take place immediately before a company is formally admitted to listing. The breakfast function in this picture was held in connection with EVRY’s admission to listing on 21 June 2017. (Photo left: Arkivverket. Photo right: CF Wesenberg - Kolonihagen)

1819-1829: The emergence of an exchange

Christiania’s merchants, the most powerful of whom were lumber merchants, had long wanted to set up an orderly location where they could meet, exchange the latest news and enter into commercial agreements. A number of previous attempts to create an exchange had come to nothing. In 1818, however, there was some momentum behind the idea of setting up an exchange. Representatives of Christiania in the new parliament pursued the proposal of setting up an exchange in the capital by means of legislation. During the course of a brief parliamentary session, a committee was set up, a bill was drafted and an act was passed. In terms of its design, the act was centred on the establishment of an exchange in Christiania, but it did permit other exchanges to be set up in other cities using the same template.

A particularly important reason why there was such a hurry to set up an exchange was Norway’s uncertain monetary conditions. In 1816 parliament had introduced a new silver-based monetary unit, the “speciedaler”. This silver-based solution took a very long time to materialise. There was not sufficient trust in the new country, nor was there enough currency available. Instead, the value of Norwegian banknotes fluctuated on international markets such as Hamburg. The ability to set exchange rates for the Norwegian currency at an exchange in Christiana would provide prices that were based on local supply and demand. When Christiania Børs opened on 15 April 1819, its most important function of all was to set exchange rates for Norway’s currency.

In the major centres of commerce such as London, Paris and Amsterdam, exchanges had been set up as a way for merchants to formalise their self-organisation, and only later did they start to receive support in the form of legislation. However, in Christiania, which at this time was a town with a population of slightly over 10,000, commercial activity was not on a scale that could allow an exchange to come into being organically. Assistance from the state, through legislation and rights, was therefore essential.

The most important assistance received by Christiania Børs consisted of the state ensuring that the exchange had a revenue base. All licensed merchants were obliged to pay an annual membership fee of one speciedaler, which was the equivalent to two to three days’ wages for a craftsman. In addition, ships that docked in Christiania had to pay a fee to the exchange. The revenue from these sources enabled Christiania Børs to erect the stock exchange building (designed by architect Christian Heinrich Grosch (1801-1865)) between 1827 and 1829, which became one of the first monumental buildings in the new capital.

The exchange now had revenue and a building. What it now needed was business activity.

 

1818

The Stock Exchange Act

King Carl Johan signed the first Stock Exchange Act on 8 September 1818. Christiania Børs opened for business for the first time on 15 April 1819.

Christiania Børs’ first offices were in the Madam Jørgen Pløen building on Toldbodgaten (also known as Treschowgaarden and now the Fred. Olsen building), which is at the intersection with Fred. Olsens gate, opposite today’s stock exchange building.

Photo: Oslobilder
1820

The Exchange Committee

The Exchange and Commerce Committee had three members who were elected by and from among the city’s merchants, who are seen here accompanied by the Exchange Commissioner.

The Committee was the exchange’s highest authority and the beautiful wax stamp that was used on its correspondence gave weight to its authority.

Photo: Oslo Museum / Arkivverket
1823

Architectural drawings

In 1823 the Exchange Committee invited subscriptions for a bond issue to finance the “Construction of an Exchange”. The exchange building was the first major assignment won by the architect Christian Heinrich Grosch in Christiania.

Grosch went on to design the university, the old Norges Bank building and the ‘Oslo Bazaars’ adjoining Oslo Cathedral. These sketches were found together with other material by Grosch in Oslo Børs’ archives.

Photo: Arkivverket
1829

The exchange building

The new exchange building was formally opened on 3 January 1829, and was the first monumental building to be constructed in Norway following its declaration of independence from Denmark in 1814.

In the early years the building was also used for bazaars, exhibitions and hospitality. In addition, the Christiania City Council held its meetings in the building until 1880.

Photo: Oslobilder

1830-1914: An exchange for merchants in a growing economy

Christiana changed completely over the course of the 1800s. From a small, sleepy provincial town that was part of the Danish-Norwegian conglomerate state, Christiania took on the role of capital city in a new independent state – admittedly linked with Sweden in a personal union (shared head of state). Serving as the capital city was itself a source of growth: public institutions and government ministries had to be set up and staffed.

Nevertheless, it was the century’s major economic changes that had the biggest impact on the city. As a result of a process that can be associated with industrialisation, the division of labour and production for a market, the pace of economic growth was transformed. Where previously people could not hope to be significantly wealthier than their parents, new generations could now expect to see clear material progress over the course of their lives. One way in which this expressed itself was in how Christiania itself became an industrial city, initially in the form of textile firms along the Akerselven river in the 1840s and later through the establishment of significant mechanical engineering companies. By the end of the nineteenth century, it had a population of over a quarter of a million – more than 5,000 of whom were obliged to pay membership fees to the exchange.

In a rapidly growing and changing economy, Christiania Børs had to find its way. It never became an actual exchange in the sense of a formalised arena for trading in commodities, but it had a clear sense of what an exchange should in essence be: a place that brings supply and demand together in time and space in a concentrated fashion. Its strength lay in its ability to serve as a meeting place, to enable as many as possible of the city’s most important business people to meet up during its opening hours to discuss business, enter into agreements and hear the latest news. Indeed, the information aspect of its activities was important. It subscribed to a wide range of newspapers, journals and telegram services whose information on prices and transportation rates was sought-after news. At a time when accessing information in a timely fashion was expensive, the aim was for the exchange to be the place to go if you wanted to know what was happening and at what price.

The level of attendance during the exchange’s opening hours was a recurrent problem for the exchange. In the decade preceding the outbreak of World War I, the level of attendance seems to have stabilised at a new level. Many firms announced that their clients were to meet with them during the exchange’s opening hours. Important new initiatives were also launched around this time. One was the Securities Exchange (“Fondsbørsen”), which was set up in 1881. It provided monthly prices for securities in a city with just two stockbrokers, and it was the starting point in Norway for the term Børs (“exchange” or “bourse”) coming to refer to a venue for trading in securities. Another initiative was the Commodities Exchange (“Varebørsen”), which was set up in 1901, which provided prices for (but not trading in) important groups of commodities on a regular basis for the first time.

In the golden years leading up to World War I, Christiania Børs was guided by what was beneficial to the city’s merchants. A range of new measures was implemented to strengthen commerce during this period, with some undertaken at Christiania Børs’ initiative and others in response to requests from the business community or the wishes of the Ministry of Trade. The Ministry of Trade was responsible for initiating Christiania Børs’ role as the body that nominated examiners for those studying commerce and authorised auditors. Christiania Børs also set up its own evening classes for those undertaking apprenticeships in commerce. Its Arbitration Office (“Vollgiftkontor”) was the ultimate authority in respect of all private disputes about contracts. At the same time, its staff were members of the Christiania Chamber of Commerce’s fifty-person committee that, on the basis of specific questions and answers – later published in book form – played a role in shaping what constituted good Norwegian business practice.

 

1897

Decorated in celebration

The exchange building was adorned with flags and its coat of arms in connection with the celebration of King Oscar II’s silver jubilee in 1897.

The King, who before becoming King was often referred to as ‘the Norwegian Prince’, took part in the celebrations organised to mark 50 years since Norway’s declaration of independence in 1814. 17 May 1864 was the greatest celebration of Norway’s independence that had ever been seen in Christiania, which was decorated with Norwegian and Swedish flags for the occasion. A number of prominent guests walked in procession from Christiania Børs into the city, where the government, members of the Supreme Court, and prominent office holders and military personnel attended the celebrations.

As King, Oscar II would continue to be very popular, and he was the last joint king of Norway and Sweden before Norway’s independence in 1905.

Photo: Oslobilder
1905

The King’s entry

Norway’s union with Sweden was formally dissolved on 26 October 1905, and on 18 November of the same year Parliament voted unanimously to elect Prince Carl of Denmark King of Norway. The Prince took the name Haakon VII and entered Christiania on 25 November 1905 together with Queen Maud and Crown Prince Olav.

The King’s entry was an international event and the capital, including the exchange, were decorated and illuminated in honour of the new royal family.

Foto: The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History / The National Library
1906

Visit from China

In the spring of 1906, Norway’s capital city had to prepare for a visit by a Chinese delegation with only a few days’ notice.

Both the exchange building and its management played a central role during the visit, and Christiania Børs arranged an exhibition of Norwegian companies that wished to break into the Chinese market with their goods.

Photo: Oslobilder
1907

The library

The exchange’s reading room and library strengthened its role as both a meeting place and a hub for business-related information. The library came to house several thousand reference works, as well as a range of Norwegian and foreign newspapers.

The exchange building has hosted a range of courses and evening classes over the years, with the first classes being run for commerce apprentices in 1907.

Photo: Arkivverket / Oslo Museum

1915-1938: The boom and its aftermath

Few other periods have been more important in shaping ideas about Norway’s stock exchange and securities market than the boom period during World War I. The war generated a prodigious amount of revenue for Norwegian ship owners and an abundant supply of funds for the Norwegian economy, and this found its way into a massive wave of speculation in ships and shares in shipping companies in the 1915-1918 period. This wave of wild speculation transformed the exchange and brought it to the attention of the entire population.

After the war, share prices fell sharply, with trading volumes falling by even more. The level of securities trading seen in the interwar period was higher than before the war but was still only a shadow of the activity levels seen during the war. Only in some specific sub-markets, above all in whaling companies, did the level of trading remain as before. For Christiania Børs, which in this period changed its name to Oslo Børs, the boom was therefore an episode that gave rise to strongly held ideas about what a stock exchange was, but such ideas bore little relation to what it actually did or to the significance it would come to have over the subsequent fifty years.

Instead, the interwar period was the last heyday for Oslo Børs as the home of commerce. New initiatives – such as radio broadcasts, an advertising school, and popular courses in French business correspondence – suggest that Oslo Børs was trying to find new ways of facilitating commerce. It was, though, battling against a headwind in this work. Its biggest competitive advantage as a meeting place – the access it provided to information – was being eroded as the information it offered was gradually becoming available via new channels and more cheaply. Similarly, the development of telephony, and not least the frequency with which telephony services were used, resulted in fewer people travelling to Tollbugata 2. At the same time, Oslo Børs was a victim of the urban growth to which it had contributed in that its location was no longer as central to the city as it had been when it was built in 1827-1829.

 

1919

Christiania Børs turns 100

The centenary of the foundation of Christiania Børs was celebrated appropriately by a visit from the King, the publication of a book and an event in the exchange building’s grand hall. The Christiania Chamber of Commerce’s Choral Society performed in the exchange building’s garden, which had been decorated for the occasion – a symbolic expression of the continuing strong connection between those involved in commerce and Christiania Børs.

King Haakon VII attended the centenary event on 25 April 1919.

Photo: Oslo Museum
1925

Information hub

Providing information to business and industry has always been one of Oslo Børs’ most important functions, and in 1925 it made its first radio broadcasts, which provided information on share prices and exchange rates.

At the same time, Oslo Børs continued to convey information between Norwegian and foreign business communities. Inquiries about possible cooperation were displayed in the exchange building’s lobby, along with the day’s prices, exchange rates and other relevant news.

Photo: Arkivverket
1931

The Securities Exchange turns 50

The golden jubilee of the Securities Exchange was marked on 1 March 1931, with Exchange Commissioner Reidar Due at the podium.

The event opened with a re-enactment of the very first listing of a security in 1881. Reidar Due acted as the listing manager.

Photo: Arkivverket
1933

Popular courses

Oslo Børs launched a number of new courses during World War II, many of which were very popular with people involved in commerce.

The photograph above is from the opening of the first course in French business correspondence on 16 January 1933. The photograph below is from the opening of the first course in English business correspondence on 22 January 1934.

Oslo Børs continues to run an extensive range of specialist courses and seminars on stock exchange and financial markets topics.

Photo: Arkivverket / Oslo Museum

1939-1977: Oslo Børs in the shadow of the state

The war years created new challenges for Oslo Børs. The biggest of these was preventing the building from being requisitioned by occupying forces and preventing Oslo Børs from being taken over and run by Nazi sympathisers. The Exchange Commissioner and the Exchange Committee essentially succeeded in this work, even if the Committee was supplemented with a couple of government representatives for this new period. As a consequence, important issues were resolved elsewhere.

Peace brought further challenges for Oslo Børs. The price restrictions introduced during the war were continued. Its function as a venue for the listing of prices for commodities therefore essentially came to an end, even though it continued to include the prices set by the authorities in its lists for many years. The final commodity for which prices were actually listed was eggs, and this ceased at the end of 1974. The post-war years were therefore the swansong for Oslo Børs as an arena for merchants. 

Norway’s Labour Party was almost continuously in power from 1945 to 1965. The party’s economic thinking continued to be very influential in the years that followed. Its strategy for generating growth and welfare provision was centred on a high level of investment, a policy of low interest rates, and the political management of resource allocation. Such thinking affords little space for an exchange-based debt market. For large Norwegian businesses, particularly those that were export-oriented, this was not a problem. They were prioritised in terms of the state’s allocation of credit and benefited from low interest rates. Their ability to access cheap debt capital also made it much less attractive to raise new equity.

Oslo Børs survived during these years due to its basis in legislation, its building and the strength of its finances relative to the circumstances. As an organisation, it was small, with 7-8 employees. Its secondary market was illiquid, and many securities were traded only infrequently. Some episodes – such as the mini-boom associated with the initial public listing of companies at the start of the 1970s  – resulted in higher levels of activity for a period, but did not lead to lasting change in the exchange's role in the economy.

 

1940

The start and end of the war

When German forces captured Oslo and Norway as a whole on 9 April 1940, Oslo Børs had to find practical solutions. The decision to suspend listings at Oslo Børs is recorded in pen and ink in the Exchange Committee’s minutes. The times of when the air raid sirens went off were added in pencil.

The Exchange Committee’s minutes for 7 and 8 May 1945 contain the following: "Germany’s complete surrender on all fronts (…) Norway is again ours".

Photo: Arkivverket
1949

Exchange rates

Exchange rate restrictions during and after World War II meant that the exchange was not able to set exchange rates, as the authorities set them instead. When Great Britain devalued the pound by 30.5% against the US dollar in 1949, the Norwegian government immediately devalued the Norwegian krone by the same amount. In this picture, exchange employee Storm Larsen is updating the rates on the exchange rate board in the lobby of the exchange building.

Oslo Børs stopped setting prices for foreign currencies on 30 August 1991 after 172 years. The board from the final day continues to be displayed in the lobby.

Photo: NTB scanpix
1950

The trading room

Even though the level of activity at the Securities Exchange was low in the decades after the war, suit-clad brokers met each other there every day to buy and sell securities.

From the telephone kiosks at the end of the trading room, the brokers were able to contact their customers and their offices.

Photo: Oslobilder
1977

Central location

The stock exchange building was originally centrally located between the city’s merchants and its busy port.

In the post-war period, the building was cut off from its surroundings by the construction of the E18 motorway. From being at the centre of events, the exchange building became something people sometimes happened to go past.

Photo: Oslobilder

1978-1994: The emergence of a modern exchange 

Oslo Børs as it is today started to take shape from the end of the 1970s. It is a stock exchange with a liquid secondary market that plays a central role in providing debt and equity capital financing to business and industry. It is, furthermore, a stock exchange of undeniable significance to the country’s economic life.

The emergence of Oslo Børs as it is today coincided with significant changes to Norway’s economy and political landscape. The pro-interventionist regulatory regime of the post-war years fell apart at the seams. Free-market thinking was in the ascendant. International recessions hit established export industries at the same time as oil began to make its mark on the economy.

Business and industry were changing. Traditional industries were struggling just as the oil sector was advancing. Within companies, management-driven structures and owner constellations were being challenged by shareholder activism, acquisitions and calls for greater emphasis on shareholder value. In the face of difficult times, the weak equity financing of Norwegian businesses was high on the political agenda.

This wind of change was undeniably to the benefit of Oslo Børs. Initially, it was neither particularly strong nor necessarily always entirely unambiguously beneficial, but over time the changes it brought were the source of a remarkable strengthening in Oslo Børs’ position in Norwegian society. Being on the right side of history is not, however, on its own a sufficient explanation for its progress. Oslo Børs moved into the space created by the major societal changes that had taken place. It presented itself as a source of financing for business and industry, and it strongly emphasised the link between the primary and secondary markets. This positioning resonated with both the right-leaning politicians who were in the ascendancy and with traditional social democrats who were concerned about the future of industry in Norway. Over time, it helped Oslo Børs to become part of the economic policy toolbox that the authorities could turn to in economic downturns.

In contrast to earlier periods of strong growth in the equity market such as the mini-boom in the 1970s or the boom of World War I, the progress made by Oslo Børs in the 1980s was not simply a brief episode but represented lasting change. The boom years from 1983 to 1987 when both the index and the level of trading activity went through the roof did end in a major correction, but this did not shake the centrality of Oslo Børs to the new financial economy. The progress made by the equity market was accomplished in tandem with major investment in preparing Oslo Børs for the future. The stock exchange building was extended, and in March 1988 it abandoned the old manual system for listing prices that was based on the auction principle. The new system meant brokers were able to input their orders into terminals located on an electronic trading floor at Oslo Børs, and from small cubicles in the broker hallway they could contact their brokerages. In 1990 Oslo Børs also launched trading in derivative products.

 

1978

A dead horse

“Stimulating the stock market is like carrying oats to a dead horse”, stated Einar Førde, a politician in the Norwegian Labour Party, from the lectern in the Norwegian Parliament in 1978.

Oslo Børs was at this time not particularly important to the Norwegian economy, and on the basis of its current performance Oslo Børs would today generate the entire annual revenue for that year in scarcely three hours. The quote became immortal, but the prophecy turned out to be false, as the market would turn.

Photo: NTB scanpix
1983

Teletext and Reuters

The all-share index was rebased to 100 points on 1 January 1983 and NRK Tekst TV, a teletext service, was launched one month later on the 2 February 1983. This became an important information channel for lots of private investors, who gradually had alternatives to the traditional printed list of share prices. In 1984, a new automatic telephone answering system with 30 different phone lines was receiving 900 enquiries a day.

In the same year, a subscription scheme was introduced that enabled customers to monitor share prices in real-time via a computer terminal, while others chose to access share price information via fax or Reuters terminals such as this one.

Photo: NTB scanpix
1988

New trading floor

Physical, person-based auctions involving brokers standing in a circle around a listing manager had been used at Christiania/Oslo Børs since 1881. By 1988, this system was struggling to cope. On 11 March 1988, Anne Tharaldsen led the final session of open outcry trading. Her legal assistant is Lise Transeth.

The new electronic trading floor, which had required some major building work to convert  the inner garden area into an atrium with a glass roof, opened on 14 March 1988.

Brokers still had to come to Oslo Børs but were now able to enter their orders at computer terminals.

Photo: NTB scanpix
1991

Options and derivatives

Options and derivatives were an important focus area for Oslo Børs in the 1990s. Trading largely involved entering orders manually via the block order desk, for which the board in the pictures played an important role. 

The board became much less important when in February 1997 Oslo Børs introduced a system that increased the use of automatic orders.

Photo: Oslo Børs
1993

Open Exchange

Oslo Børs’ “Open Exchange” events gradually became an annual tradition in the 1990s. Anyone who was interested was welcome to come to the exchange building where a range of exhibitors and speakers were organised to offer an insight into the securities market and Oslo Børs’ day-to-day activities.

In 1993, the event was held on 24 and 25 August, from 11:00 to 18:30, and visitors were able to meet representatives from organisations such as Norsk Opsjonssentral, AksjeNorge, the Norwegian Shareholders Organisation and Verdipapirsentralen.

Photo: Oslo Børs

1995 - 2019: Globalisation, competition and oil wealth

Oslo Børs participated in the growth achieved by the Norwegian economy later in the 1990s following the difficult years after the end of the previous decade. Austerity, entrenched expectations of inflation and the involvement of all the parties involved in business helped to make the Norwegian economy more competitive. February 1999 was an important transitional moment for Oslo Børs, as it marked the start of decentralised trading in shares in the sense that it became possible for brokers to enter their orders from their offices in Oslo or London for the first time. This meant Oslo Børs ceased to be a physical meeting place.

In 2001, Oslo Børs was converted into a limited liability company and entered into private ownership. This process took place rapidly with surprisingly little opposition. It also resulted in new uncertainty about what the new owners would do with Oslo Børs and what the consequences of a more profit-oriented approach would be.

While the privatisation of Oslo Børs undoubtedly increased its freedom, it did not mean any change to how it was regulated. It continued to require authorisation and to have to be a setter of standards for the securities market. In addition, it increasingly had to take into account and incorporate the regulatory framework associated with Norway’s membership of the EEA.

The competitive challenges associated with liberalised capital markets, the economies of scale associated with operating multiple trading venues and the EU’s regulatory thinking had long been of concern to Oslo Børs by this point. Concerns about the future were growing but, in reality, some aspects of Oslo Børs’ activities would remain unaffected for a very long time. The competition for international capital was admittedly something that Norwegian businesses and Oslo Børs had to address, but in practice it was primarily the EU’s 2007 Markets in Financial Instruments Directive that paved the way for radically more competition in the secondary market.

One of the most pronounced developments in this period concerned the restructuring of the stock exchange market in Europe. Everywhere, old national stock exchanges were disappearing into larger units – whether through alliances or acquisitions. Oslo Børs had to respond to this restructuring of Europe’s trading venues, actively build relationships and choose collaboration partners. The broker industry was also transformed, with companies becoming big, internationally oriented organisations driven to a large extent by technology and expertise. Where previously income from the secondary market had been the brokerage industry’s bread and butter, the centre of gravity was moving in the direction of advisory and corporate finance services.

Much of the framework around Oslo Børs has changed over the years. One thing, however, remains the same as before. This is that, although Oslo Børs’ trading platform is physically located in London, it continues to be operated by Oslo Børs from the same old building at the end of Tollbugata. Things could have turned out differently, as in 1998 Oslo Børs was a stroke of the pen away from moving with Verdipapirsentralen (VPS) to the old Shell building in Pilestredet. The move was called off at the very last moment. Oslo Børs later merged with VPS, and they became neighbours in the Kvadraturen area of Oslo. The stock exchange building stands as a physical symbol that Oslo Børs continues to exist, even though in today’s world binary code has replaced the physical marketplaces where participants used to meet in person.

1999

Decentralised trading

A big screen was set up in the Groschsalen room in connection with the opening of the new trading system in February 1999. The event was as important as the move to the electronic trading floor in 1988. The proportion of orders that were processed automatically rose to 90% over the course of the year, with the number of transactions rising by 60%.

At the same time, the new system meant that Oslo Børs ceased to be a physical meeting place. The intimate exchange with its auction-based listings had continued even after 1988 thanks to the broker hallway with its cubicle offices, but now all the brokers were gone. Oslo Børs gained five remote members in 1999 as well, and in a short space of time foreign brokers came to be responsible for an important proportion of share trading. The new trading system was also well suited for the arrival of the new breed of online brokers.

Photo: NTB scanpix
1999

Norex collaboration

At the start of 1999, it was clear that Oslo Børs’ management team wanted an alliance-based solution, and in practice there were two options open to it – orientating Oslo Børs towards Norex, an alliance in whose driving seat sat the dynamic OM Stockholm Stock Exchange, or travelling across the North Sea to London.

The Norex alliance was selected, and a letter of intent was signed in November 1999, with Olof Stenhammar and Kjell Frønsdal representing Stockholm and Oslo respectively. The agreement paved the way for closer collaboration between the independent stock exchanges in Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Reykjavik, with the aim of achieving economies of scale through the establishment of a joint trading system, rules and broker membership arrangements.

Photo: Oslo Børs
2007

Merger with VPS

Oslo Børs had long been interested in exploiting the synergies that could be achieved in the Norwegian securities market by merging with the Norwegian central securities depository (Verdipapirsentralen - VPS). The merger was motivated both by cost benefits for both institutions and by the efficiency of the entire value chain that would determine how attractive the Norwegian securities market was perceived to be.

On 26 November 2007 VPS became a member of the Oslo Børs family as a wholly owned subsidiary of Oslo Børs VPS Holding ASA. Jan Hellstrøm remained the CEO of VPS, while Bente Landsnes became the Group CEO in addition to being the President and CEO of Oslo Børs.

Photo: NTB scanpix
2009

Over to London

The Norex collaboration worked well, but Nasdaq’s acquisition of OMX in 2007 was the beginning of the end of Oslo Børs’ membership of the alliance.

In March 2009, the President and CEO of Oslo Børs, Bente Landsnes, introduced a strategic collaboration agreement with the London Stock Exchange as a replacement for the alliance. The agreement gave Oslo Børs access to a new trading system with market-leading technology, and it included market and product development across securities markets as well. This collaboration is still in place, and the shared trading system with LSE also permits co-location in LSE’s data hall for members that wish to have the shortest possible connection to the trading system located in London.

Photo: NTB scanpix
2019

Offer process

On Christmas Eve in 2018, the stock exchange operator Euronext announced that it was planning to launch an offer for all the outstanding shares in Oslo Børs VPS. Its offer of NOK 145 per share was launched on 14 January 2019.

On 30 January, the stock exchange operator Nasdaq launched an offer of NOK 152 per share. This offer was supported by the two largest shareholders in Oslo Børs VPS, namely DNB and KLP, and by the entire Board of Directors of Oslo Børs VPS. Euronext then increased its offer to NOK 158 per share, which Nasdaq subsequently matched. Euronext has currently secured irrevocable pre-acceptances from shareholders holding 50.5% of the share capital, while the equivalent figure for Nasdaq is 35.1%.

The Ministry of Finance is currently considering both parties’ applications for licences, and will rule on the matter after taking advice from the Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway.

Photo: Oslo Børs