A big shake-up in the markets world with the planned sale of NYSE Euronext to IntercontinentalExchange.
The deal means the 200-year-old New York Stock Exchange would be taken over by a company set up just 12 years ago.
It is an indication of the pressures on that iconic symbol of US capitalism from new technology.
ICE – as it is known – lets investors use the internet to trade futures contracts for energy and commodities as well as financial products called derivatives.
An ICE-NYSE Euronext tie-up leap-frogs Deutsche Boerse to become the world’s third-largest exchange group with a combined market value of close to 11.5 billion euros, behind CME Group, ICE’s largest US-based rival.
The 6.2 billion euro deal now has to be approved by competition regulators, in the US and Europe.
If it goes through ICE – which is based in Atlanta, Georgia – has indicated it would spin off the Euronext side of the business, which includes the Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and Lisbon stock exchanges.
“The Board of NYSE Euronext carefully considered a range of strategic alternatives and concluded that ICE is the ideal partner for NYSE Euronext in an evolving market landscape,” said Jan-Michiel Hessels, chairman of NYSE Euronext.
Analysts said the deal will give ICE a strategic boost with control of Liffe, Europe’s second-largest derivatives market, helping it compete against U.S.-based CME Group Inc, owner of the Chicago Board of Trade.
“ICE is after Liffe, that is the crown jewel of NYSE Euronext,” said Peter Lenardos, analyst at RBC Capital Markets. NYSE bought Euronext, including Liffe, for eight billion euros in 2007.
“Strategically it makes sense for ICE to enter the European derivatives space in a meaningful way,” Lenardos added.
ICE Chairman and CEO Jeff Sprecher, who will hold the same roles of the combined group, said the deal had been “well received” by regulators after he and NYSECEO Duncan Niederaur completed a “whirlwind tour” in the United States and Europe ahead of Thursday’s announcement.