TSX blocked merger with Montreal Exchange, Quebec finance minister says

The TSX won't comment on a Radio-Canada report that the TSX board blocked a proposed merger of the Toronto and Montreal stock exchanges because a Quebecer would have become CEO of the merged entity.

The TSX won't comment ona Radio-Canada report that said the TSXboard blocked a proposed merger of theToronto and Montreal stock exchangesbecausea Quebecer would have become CEO of the merged entity.

"Wedon't comment on rumours,"TSX spokesman Steve Kee said to CBCNews.ca."We have announced our intention to launch [a new derivatives exchange] in 2009 but nothing precludes a deal with [the Montreal Exchange]."

The CBC's French-language TV network reported last night that TSX Group CEO Richard Nesbitt and Montreal Exchange (MX) CEO Luc Bertrand were close to reaching a deal several weeks ago to combine the two exchanges.

According to the report, the planwould have seenBertrand become the CEO of the new exchange andNesbitt the chairman.

Buthaving a Quebecer as bossdidn't sit well with some senior TSX officials — notably TSX board chairman Wayne Fox, according to Quebec finance minister Monique Jérôme-Forget in an interview withRadio-Canada.

"We're seeing the behaviour of a man … a man from Toronto, the chairman ofthe TSX,"Jérôme-Forget said in translated commentsmade toRadio-Canada.

"It's perhaps a phenomenon we see quite often, coming from Toronto; being haughty when it comes to Montreal."

The network said Nesbitt could not get the approval of the TSX board for such a merger, while Bertrand got the MX board to approve the plan.

Under a 1999 agreement, the TSX assumedMontreal's stock trading activity, while the Montreal Exchange won the right to carry out all derivatives trading. The agreement expires in 2009.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said last month that a merger of the two exchanges would be "in the best interest of Canada."