updated 9/26/2007 9:34:13 AM ET 2007-09-26T13:34:13

Nasdaq and Borse Dubai said Wednesday they raised their bid for Sweden's OMX exchange by 15 percent to $4.9 billion and entered agreements with key shareholders to secure nearly half of OMX shares.

The 3.5 billion euro-offer, coming just a week after Nasdaq and Borse Dubai settled their takeover showdown for OMX, was a response to efforts by a group from Qatar to gain a foothold in the Stockholm-based company.

Nasdaq and Borse Dubai also lowered the minimum acceptance level for the offer to 50 percent, from 90 percent.

"Nasdaq and Borse Dubai strongly believe that the proposed transaction provides the best opportunity to further enhance the growth of the Nordic and Baltic capital markets," the companies said in a joint statement.

Nasdaq and Borse Dubai settled their own takeover battle for OMX last week with a deal that would ultimately give Nasdaq control of the company, while Borse Dubai would get a 20 percent stake in Nasdaq and a 28 percent holding in the London Stock Exchange.

Just hours after that deal was announced the Qatar Investment Authority stepped in, saying it had acquired 20 percent in the London Stock Exchange and nearly 10 percent in OMX. The move set off speculation about a new bidding contest for the two exchanges.

Nasdaq and Borse Dubai raised their bid to 265 kronor ($40.67) per OMX share — up from 230 kronor ($35.29) per share _ to win the support of key OMX shareholders, said Thomas Backteman, a spokesman for Nasdaq at the Hallvarsson & Halvarsson consulting firm.

"There was another player that was prepared to hike its bid to 260 kronor ($39.91) per share. And to purchase pretty big quantities too," he said, without naming the Qatar Investment Authority.

OMX shares rose 1.3 percent to 274 kronor ($42.05) in Stockholm after the announcement.

Nasdaq and Borse Dubai said the higher bid price had been approved by key shareholders owning 18.5 percent of the Nordic exchange group, including Swedish investment firm Investor AB, Nordea Bank AB and OMX Chief Executive Magnus Bocker.

Those "irrevocable undertakings" as well as option agreements and stock purchases buy Borse Dubai would raise its stake in OMX to "no less than 47.6 percent," the companies said. Under their joint effort, Borse Dubai is to gain control of OMX and then give all the shares to Nasdaq.

However, the OMX shareholders have the right break the agreement if a higher bid of at least 303 kronor ($46.49) per share comes in, and Borse Dubai is not able to match it.

The deal is also coming under scrutiny in the U.S., where some members of Congress have raised concerns about foreign ownership in a U.S. stock exchange.

Qatar bought a 9.98 percent stake in OMX last Thursday, but is believed to have raised its holdings to as much as 14 percent through different brokers.

The Investment Authority has said its stock purchases in London and Stockholm were pure financial investments, but many investors and analysts believed that the Middle Eastern country had bigger plans, at least for OMX.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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