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Data-analytics company Refinitiv is set to be acquired by the London Stock Exchange.

TOBY MELVILLE/Reuters

The London Stock Exchange is set to win EU antitrust approval for its US$27-billion takeover of data company Refinitiv, two people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday, bolstering its footprint in a rapidly consolidating sector.

The market for financial data has exploded with the advent of computer-driven trading, triggering a rash of takeovers as companies seek to create one-stop shops to serve clients and get an edge over traditional rivals in supplying data, dubbed the new “oil.”

A merged LSE and Refinitiv would still be eclipsed by financial data leader Bloomberg LP, but it will outrank a combination of S&P and IHS Markit, whose US$44-billion deal announced this week was the largest acquisition of 2020.

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The LSE, seeking to diversify into the financial data sector and reduce reliance on unpredictable trading volumes, unveiled its plan to buy Refinitiv last year, but faced hurdles in Brussels, with the deadline for EU approval pushed back to January, 2021.

Last month the exchange offered to allow rivals unrestricted access to its clearing and data operations for the next 10 years as part of a package of concessions that included the sale of its Borsa Italiana operations to pan-European rival Euronext.

The sources declined to provide details of any changes to the concessions, although some said EU officials considered the Borsa Italiana sale to be a major divestment.

The European Commission, which is scheduled to decide on the deal by Jan. 21, declined to comment.

The LSE and Refinitiv, which is 45-per-cent-owned by Reuters’ parent Thomson Reuters, also declined to comment.

LSE shares tripled gains on the Reuters story and were up 8.6 per cent in latest trade.

Like the LSE, other leading stock exchanges are looking to diversify into data and other services.

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LSE rival Intercontinental Exchange has already moved deeper into data, and in August also bought Ellie Mae, a technology platform for the mortgage finance industry, for US$11-billion.

Deutsche Boerse Group, whose attempt to buy Borsa Italiana was thwarted by Euronext, said last month it would buy 80 per cent of Institutional Shareholder Services for about US$1.8-billion.

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