A merger between the London and Frankfurt stock exchanges was blocked by the European Commission Wednesday because of competition concerns, ending the third attempt in 17 years to unite the two financial enterprises.
"The merger between Deutsche Boerse and the London Stock Exchange [LSE] would have significantly reduced competition by creating a de facto monopoly," said Margrethe Vestager, the EU commissioner in charge of competition policy.
"As the parties failed to offer the remedies required to address our competition concerns, the commission has decided to prohibit the merger," she said of the deal, which had an estimated worth of 29 billion euros (31.29 billion dollars).
Vestager was referring to an 11th-hour condition put forward by EU competition authorities that the LSE should sell a majority stake in MTS, a platform that sells European government bonds and other fixed-income products.
The LSE said this divestment was not in line with its business interests in Italy and elsewhere, and that the sale would create other regulatory hurdles.
Competition concerns also scuppered two previous attempts by Deutsche Boerse - which operates the Frankfurt exchange - to merge with the LSE, in 2000 and 2005.
The EU's decision to block a merger is "a setback for Europe, for the Capital Markets Union and for the bridge between continental Europe and Britain," Deutsche Boerse's supervisory board chairman Joachim Faber said in response to the news.
Wednesday's decision comes on the same day that British Prime Minister Theresa May is due to address parliament to announce that she has invoked Article 50 of the EU's key treaty, triggering a two-year negotiation period for her country's exit from the bloc.
Vestager said that Brexit "played no role" in the commission's decision to block the merger, adding that Britain was currently still a member of the bloc and was being treated as such.
She said that, although the nature of Britain's future trading relationship with the EU remains unclear, Brussels regulators would maintain jurisdiction over merger attempts "by any company that has a footprint in the European market - no matter your flag, no matter your ownership."
The location of the merged entity's headquarters was another a bone of contention during merger negotiations after officials in the German state of Hesse said they would block the deal unless the parties chose Frankfurt over London.
The original agreement had foreseen London as the sole headquarters, a decision that was brought into question after British voters decided on June 23 that their country should leave the EU.