SEC blocks sale of Chicago Stock Exchange to China-based investors

Founded in 1882 the Chicago Stock Exchange is one of the oldest in the United StatesMore

The move by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) brings the curtain down on a two-year battle for approval of the sale and points to the more hostile environment faced by Chinese buyers under the administration of USA president Donald Trump.

U.S. politicians, including President Trump, have said letting a Chinese firm invest in a United States exchange was a bad idea.

The privatel-owned exchange was initially approved by SEC staff in August, but within minutes of the announcement, SEC commissioners, led by chairman Jay Clayton, a Trump appointee, put the decision on hold for further review.

The US has rejected a proposed merger between the Chicago Stock Exchange and a Chinese-linked investor group. The Chicago Stock Exchange handles only a small fraction of the stock trades that take place every day.

The acquisition, which was first proposed back in February of 2016 and worth approximately $25 million, was led by privately held Chongqing Casin Enterprise Group that invests in financial holdings and real estate development. But the takeover still came under fire from USA lawmakers, who anxious about the national security implications. Deutsche Boerse bought the US-based International Securities Exchange for $2.8bn in 2007, before selling it to Nasdaq for $1.1bn in 2016.

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"The review process has also raised questions about whether the proposed ownership structure will allow the commission to exercise sufficient oversight of the exchange" the SEC said on Thursday. The regulator said this "raises significant doubts" that it would be able to monitor the exchange if the deal went through.

In a letter sent to the SEC chairman over the summer, 11 members of Congress said they had concerns about the "severe lack of transparency in China", which would make it hard for the committee for "prevent undue influence or control over a national securities exchange".

Technically, the Chicago Stock Exchange could still resubmit its proposal or seek other buyers.

"Our government considers our stock exchanges-a key part of our national financial market infrastructure-to be "self-regulatory organizations, ' and presumes that each exchange is fully capable of managing the risk inherent in its operations", Manchin said in a statement to Breitbart News last July".

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