The US stock market operator InterContinental Exchange (ICE) and transatlantic peer NYSE Euronext should soon unveil a tie-up, a source close to the deal told AFP on Thursday, confirming press reports on the subject.
The source, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "Talks are still being finalised but the announcement of a tie-up is close." Media reports have raised the possibility of ICE buying NYSE Euronext, and trading in shares of the transatlantic group have been suspended in Paris.
The Paris Bourse's website said the trading was suspended "at the company's request, pending a statement and until further notice."
A stock market spokesman told AFP that "the shares have been suspended for technical reasons," but declined to comment further.
The Wall Street Journal cited sources close to the talks as saying that an announcement of the two group's tie-up could be announced on Thursday.
The report sent shares in NYSE Euronext soaring by more than 20 percent in electronic trading following the close of the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.
A report in the New York Times that also cited a source close to the talks, said that ICE could offer $33.0 per share for NYSE Euronext, of which two-thirds would be paid for in ICE shares.
That would value NYSE Euronext at $8.0 billion, well above its market price of $5.8 billion at the close of trading on Wednesday.
NYSE Euronext operates the New York Stock Exchange as well as the main market operators in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Lisbon, and also owns the European derivatives market Liffe.
In early 2012, a plan to combine NYSE Euronext with the German market operator Deutsche Boerse was rejected by the European Commission on competition grounds, since the combined company would have had a massive presence in the trading of financial derivatives in Europe.
Atlanta-based ICE runs a specialist market on which raw materials are traded, along with financial products linked to foreign exchange and interest rates.
In 2011, ICE joined forces with the high-tech Nasdaq market operator to try and buy part of NYSE Euronext.
The New York Times noted that with a market capitalisation of 9.0 billion dollars, ICE is bigger than NYSE Euronext, and that ICE is one of the most profitable financial market operators.