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LSE expected to approve Borsa sale to Euronext on Thursday - sources

MILAN (Reuters) - The board of the London Stock Exchange LSE.L is expected to approve on Thursday a binding offer by pan-European bourse operator Euronext ENX.PA for the Milan stock exchange, three sources familiar with the matter said.

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LSE entered exclusive talks with Euronext last month, after the Paris bourse owner saw off competition from Deutsche Boerse DB1Gn.DE and Swiss rival SIX for Borsa Italiana.

LSE is selling Borsa as part of regulatory remedies to see through its $27 billion (20.83 billion pounds) purchase of data provider Refinitiv, which is 45% owned by Thomson Reuters TRI.TO, the parent company of Reuters News.

The sale of Borsa, which is contingent on the Refinitiv deal going through, is politically sensitive in Italy due to Borsa’s ownership of MTS, the bond platform which handles trading of Italy’s 2.1 trillion euro (1.9 trillion pounds) government bonds.

To secure the backing of the Rome government, Euronext has teamed up with state agency Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) and Italy's biggest bank Intesa SanPaolo ISP.MI.

In addition to Paris, Euronext runs also stock exchanges in Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Portugal.

Having long set its sights on Borsa Italiana, which Chief Executive Stephane Boujnah said was “a natural fit”, Euronext used its federal model to draft a governance system that would grant Italy ample representation.

Milan would become the largest contributor to Euronext revenue, at roughly 35% of the combined group.

One of the sources said Euronext’s board had approved the bid on Wednesday. A separate source said an announcement could come as early as Friday.

Both LSE and Euronext declined to comment.

Sources have said the bids have valued the Milan stock exchange at up to nearly 4 billion euros.

Euronext, which has not disclosed the value of its offer, has said it will finance the purchase with existing cash and by raising new equity as well as debt.

It will launch a rights issue for current shareholders and a capital increase reserved for CDP Equity and Intesa.

Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Barclays advised LSE. Euronext worked with JPMorgan and Mediobanca, and CDP with Lazard.

Reporting by Valentina Za in Milan, Giselda Vagnoni in Rome, Pamela Barbaglia in London and Maya Nikolaeva in Paris; Editing by Jan Harvey

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