Are the Singapore and Australian stock exchanges about to announce a merger? Shares in the two companies were placed on trading halt Friday 22 October amid speculation the SGX would announce a full takeover of its Australian counterpart, the ASX, after the weekend. Neither party has released any further details at this stage.

A merger or takeover would result in one of the world’s biggest exchanges, with a total market cap of around US$14 billion. SGX and ASX, both privately listed companies, are the Asian region’s second and third-largest bourses respectively.

It’s no secret the ASX has been looking to team up with one of its rivals in some form, preferably one with similar business interests, as a strategic move to build its clout in the region. The Singapore, Hong Kong and even Toronto exchanges were rumored to be of interest just last month. Consolidation of the world’s major stock markets may increase in the next few years as they face competition from new rivals. ASX is set to lose its monopoly in 2011.

sources & articles: The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian