01.23.2012
By Terry Flanagan

NYSE-DB Hanging On

With the fate of the cross-border merger between NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Borse up in the air, additional concessions have been offered in a move to quell the concerns of regulators.

Deutsche Borse has offered additional concessions to appease German regulators mulling over its merger with NYSE Euronext. In a new proposal, it has promised not to fire any local employees in Frankfurt and Eschborn, Germany for at least two years. It will also invest €300 million over three years in an effort to solidify Germany as Europe’s operations hub, and has promised to keep its derivatives, market data, custody and settlement businesses in Germany.

The move comes a week after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved a series of rule filing related to the merger, including how NYSE, Amex and the International Securities Exchange would have a change in ownership.

The next goal for the merger parties will be to lobby the EU Competition Commissioners as well as industry heads for support at a World Economic Forum meeting in Switzerland in late January.

The chief executives of NYSE and Deutsche Borse, Duncan Niederauer and Reto Francioni, respectively, addressed a letter to the Commission noting that the rejection of the deal would be a missed opportunity for Europe to boost its financial standing amid the ongoing macroeconomic issues.

Although no official word from the EU Competition Commission has been given, reports surfaced that it would vote to block the $17 billion deal. The probability of the EU Competition Commission approving the merger is declining rapidly, UBS has pegged the probability of the deal going through at 20%.

“Consolidation among larger parties is viewed as anti-competitive to some people,” said David Herron, chief executive officer of the Chicago Stock Exchange. “That seems to be the main problem for NYSE and Deutsche Borse.”

While the European Competition Commission has kept the focus of its investigation on how the combined entity would have control of over 90% of exchange-traded derivatives in Europe, NYSE and Deutsche Borse have stressed that the merger would provide economic benefits to the struggling European economy as well as better position Frankfurt and Europe as a global economic power.

It would also put it on even ground with CME Group, which has dominated U.S. derivatives trading since the Chicago Mercantile Exchange merged with the Chicago Board of Trade in 2007. In addition, although NYSE would have a firm control of exchange-traded derivatives, only about 15% of derivatives in Europe are traded on exchanges, with the remaining 85% done on over-the-counter markets.

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