SINGAPORE Exchange (SGX) chief executive Magnus Bocker said on Wednesday the negative reactions to the proposed merger of the local bourse and its Australian counterpart ASX had been expected.

But SGX is prepared to engage all stakeholders - including opposing lawmakers from Down Under - to help them understand the deal better. 'We have the highest respect for the (Australian) authorities and we will provide all the necessary information.

'We have spent a lot of our time talking to our shareholders and many of the analysts of our company... going through with them the rationale for the proposed transaction,' said Mr Bocker, commenting on the ASX-SGX deal for the first time since it was announced last week.

Much of the attention following the announcement of the A$8.4 billion (S$10.6 billion) proposed merger, related to concerns of the Australian bourse falling into foreign hands.

Mr Bocker's comments came after growing criticism from left- and right-wing politicians in Canberra, which has centred on whether the proposed merger is in Australia's national interest.

Questions were also raised, both in the Australian media and parliament, on Singapore's 'appalling' human rights record and its Government's alleged influence on state-linked companies like the SGX.Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the E50 Awards at Resorts World Sentosa yesterday, Mr Bocker said it was natural for various stakeholders of the ASX to question the impact of the deal.

'Negativity is expected'