NYSE chief confident of merger approval

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The head of NYSE Euronext voiced confidence on Thursday that Deutsche Boerse shareholders would approve the merger of the two companies, creating the largest stock-exchange operator in the world.

The deal, which would forge a company valued at $25 billion, was approved early Thursday by NYSE Euronext shareholders and now faces scrutiny from Deutsche Boerse shareholders, who must vote by July 13.

"It's going to be a hurdle. Seventy-five percent is a big number," said NYSE Euronext chief executive Duncan Niederauer, referring to the proportion of Deutsche Boerse shareholders needed to approve the merger.

"We had 11 percent as of last night, that isn't surprising. We didn't really expect it to accelerate until our vote this morning," Niederauer said on CNBC television.

In Thursday's vote, 65.6 percent of NYSE Euronext shareholders approved the merger, which has sparked controversy in the United States because it would hand over the 221-year-old New York Stock Exchange to foreign owners.

A merged Deutsche Boerse and NYSE Euronext would own exchanges in New York, Frankfurt, Paris, Lisbon, Amsterdam and Brussels and would control nearly 90 percent of the markets for derivatives in Europe.

The merger must also be approved by European regulators, with EU antitrust officials due to close a preliminary probe by August 4.

Niederaurer admitted that NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Boerse would need to make some concessions to regulators, but insisted that the merged company would not spin off any of its European derivatives exchanges.

"For us to sit and to say the deal will be approved without any concession is somewhat delusional," Niederauer said.

However, he added: "It would be unprecedented for us to divest one of the derivative exchanges. That's a huge part of the value creation opportunity."

Under the terms of their February 15 merger proposal, Deutsche Boerse shareholders will own 60 percent of the combined, Netherlands-incorporated firm, and the German company will dominate the new board.

If the merger goes through to completion, the new company will be headquartered in both Frankfurt and New York, with NYSE Euronext leaving Paris.

© 2011 AFP

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