U.S. securities regulators approved IntercontinentalExchange Inc. (ICE:US)’s acquisition of NYSE Euronext (NYX:US), bringing the company one step closer to taking over some of the biggest stock and derivatives exchanges in America and Europe.
The companies still require approval from individual country regulators in Europe. IntercontinentalExchange agreed on Dec. 20 to acquire NYSE Euronext for cash and stock totaling $8.2 billion at the time. The Securities and Exchange Commission said in a filing yesterday it approved a rule change required to complete the deal.
IntercontinentalExchange, the energy and commodity futures bourse known as ICE, is buying the U.S. equity exchange operator as the profitability of stock trading declines and derivatives generate more income. European Union regulators approved the deal on June 24 after blocking Deutsche Boerse AG (DB1)’s purchase of NYSE last year, citing concern over competition in derivatives and clearing.
“It’s positive for the NYSE because they clearly needed a partner,” Ben Schwartz, the Chicago-based chief market strategist at broker Lightspeed Financial Inc., said by phone. “The SEC and the European regulators are doing the right thing by allowing this merger. It’ll be good for the marketplace.”
NYSE shares (NYX:US) rose 0.4 percent to $42.03 at 10:50 a.m. New York time. They have gained 33 percent this year, twice the advance in the Bloomberg World Exchanges Index of 27 bourses. IntercontinentalExchange added 0.5 percent to $181.23, extending its 2013 advance to 46 percent.
Rich Adamonis, a spokesman for NYSE Euronext, and Kelly Loeffler, a spokeswoman for IntercontinentalExchange, said the SEC decision was welcome.
IntercontinentalExchange, which bought the New York Board of Trade in 2007 and renamed it ICE Futures U.S., has said it will keep the NYSE Euronext brand. The merged company will maintain dual headquarters in Atlanta and New York.
IntercontinentalExchange Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Sprecher said Aug. 6 that the exchanges expect the deal “will be finalized this fall.” Shareholders of both companies approved the transaction in June.
Merging NYSE Euronext, which owns the biggest exchanges by value of listings in the U.S., France and the Netherlands, with the second-largest futures market underscores both the growing importance of derivatives and the diminishing influence of the New York Stock Exchange, founded more than two centuries ago under a buttonwood tree in New York. ICE plans to spin off Euronext, the Continental European equity markets of NYSE.
Populist outcry, antitrust concern and some of the most volatile markets on record have prevented the completion of more than $32 billion in announced exchange transactions, according to data compiled by Bloomberg on deals since October 2010 that were valued at $1 billion or more.
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