LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 27: Share price information is displayed on screens at the London Stock Exchange offices after reopening following the Christmas holiday on December 27, 2018 in London, England. The FTSE 100 hit a fresh two-year low today despite stock markets around the world recording significant gains by the end of Wednesday.  (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Jack Taylor/Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 27: Share price information is displayed on screens at the London Stock Exchange offices after reopening following the Christmas holiday on December 27, 2018 in London, England. The FTSE 100 hit a fresh two-year low today despite stock markets around the world recording significant gains by the end of Wednesday. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
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Correction: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect name for the head of strategy at HKEX.

(CNN Business) —  

Hong Kong has just made a surprise £30 billion ($37 billion) takeover bid for the London Stock Exchange.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKXCF) (HKEX) said Wednesday it had made a proposal to the LSE to combine the two companies in a cash and share deal worth £29.6 billion, or £31.6 billion ($39 billion) including debt.

If it happens, the takeover would create the world’s third biggest stock exchange group behind the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq in terms of the value of companies listed on those markets, according to the operators’ data.

It would also be the biggest foreign takeover of a UK-listed company since Japanese pharmaceuticals maker Takeda (TAK) bought Shire in 2018, according to Dealogic data.

The deal would “redefine global capital markets for decades to come,” HKEX CEO Charles Li told reporters on a conference call. It would reinforce Hong Kong’s position as the key connection between mainland China, Asia and the rest of the world.

But it faces a series of hurdles. Hong Kong’s offer comes at a sensitive time, politically. Brexit uncertainty is casting a shadow over London’s role as a global financial center. At the same time, Hong Kong — Asia’s premier financial hub — has been rocked by months of pro-demo