The deal hands control of one of the most renowned names in global finance to little-known ICE, an Atlanta-based company best known for its electronic commodities trading platforms. As part of the deal, ICE has committed to maintaining the exchange’s iconic Wall Street building and its traditional trading floor.
“Our transaction is responsive to the evolution of market infrastructure today and offers a range of growth opportunities,” said ICE chairman and CEO Jeff Sprecher, who will be chairman and chief exec of the new group.
NYSE Euronext’s shares rose by a third after the deal was announced while ICE remained broadly flat. Subject to regulatory approval, the company will become the world’s third-largest exchange group.
Despite acknowledging the stock exchange’s history, ICE has limited interest in the equities market.
As a result it will seek to rid itself of Euronext – the pan-European stock exchange operating in Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris and Lisbon – in an IPO at the earliest opportunity.
Yesterday analysts said ICE’s real target is the London-headquartered Liffe, Europe’s second-largest derivatives market.