The London Stock Exchange (LSE) has signalled its determination to end the uncertainty surrounding its future as an independent company.
The LSE's comments came as it reported a jump in half-year profits
The exchange has been at the centre of takeover rumours since December, when Germany's Deutsche Boerse made an unsuccessful £1.3bn ($2.5bn) offer.
The LSE said it planned to return £250m to its shareholders once an offer period for the company has closed.
Rival Euronext and Macquarie Bank of Australia are also considering bids.
"The priority is to get out of the offer period, so we can get on with running the business," said LSE chief executive Clara Furse.
Analysts said the LSE's plan to return cash to its shareholders suggested the company was keen to defend its position as an independent business.
But Europe's biggest stock exchange insisted it was keeping an open mind on all options best able to boost shareholder value.
On Tuesday, a long-awaited report from the UK Competition Commission cleared the way for a possible takeover of the LSE by Euronext or Deutsche Boerse - but only if certain conditions were met.
The competition authority said the two must ensure the independence of the LSE's clearing services, LCH.Clearnet.
The LSE's comments on Thursday came as the company reported a 24% rise in operating profits to £50.8m in the six months to 30 September.
"The exchange has clearly demonstrated its robust strength as an independent business, delivering strong results despite the backdrop of an offer period and the significant resources this has entailed," said LSE chairman Chris Gibson-Smith.
However, pre-tax profit fell to £29.4m from £49.9m last year after the LSE took a charge of £23.1m on its EDX clearing service for the over-the-counter derivatives market.
The LSE said EDX did not justify further investment. EDX is jointly owned by Scandinavian exchange operator OMX.