The European Commission on Monday unconditionally approved the InterContinental Exchange’s (ICE) $8.2 billion acquisition of NYSE Euronext (NYX), saying the merger does not create a competitive threat to other securities markets.
The approval was granted without conditions largely because the commission found that ICE and the NYSE are not direct competitors, particularly in the area of derivatives, and therefore will continue to face competition from numerous other competitors.
“The Commission's investigation found that the proposed transaction would not raise competition concerns in any of these fields, as NYX and ICE are offering contracts belonging to different product markets so their activities do not overlap,” the Commission said in a statement.
“Moreover, the market investigation revealed that they do not exert a greater potential competitive threat on each other compared to other exchanges. Any anticompetitive effects can therefore be excluded,” the statement concluded.
ICE operates futures exchanges, over-the-counter derivatives trading platforms and derivatives clearing houses in the U.S., Canada and Europe, while NYSE Euronext operates stock and derivatives exchanges in New York and across Europe.
ICE announced its intention to buy NYSE earlier this year in an effort to compete with the CME Group (CME), a Chicago based futures exchange. The ICE/NYSE Euronext combination will create the third largest exchange operator in the world.
NYSE Euronext’s shareholders approved the acquisition by a wide margin earlier this month.
ICE’s shares were down $2.51, or 1.45%, to $170.05, while NYSE Euronext’’s stock was down 39 cents, or 0.96%, at $40.04 amid a broad selloff in stocks Monday.