By Paul Ausick
IntercontinentalExchange Inc. (ICE) announced this morning that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire NYSE Euronext Inc. (NYX) in a stock and cash transaction valued at $33.12 per NYSE Euronext share, a premium of nearly 38% to last night's closing price. The total value of the deal is $8.2 billion. About one-third of the merger offer is cash and the rest is ICE stock.
The transaction requires a lot of approvals, including from the European Commission (EC), which in February of this year rejected a $10 billion merger between NYSE Euronext and Germany's Deutsche Boerse A.G. That deal was killed because the EC said the combined company would have controlled more than 90% of all trading in European derivatives, effectively closing out any potential competition.
Similar mergers in the U.S. have beefed up both the CME Group Inc. (CME) and the Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. (NDAQ), but it is not unthinkable that the two might now have to consider their own merger. And certainly CBOE Holdings Inc. (CBOE) and its stable of valuable commodities options contracts also figure in the mix.
CME, which owns the Nymex, is by far the largest of the three, and the one that could face the most troubles from the NYSE-ICE tie-up. ICE's electronic trading of crude oil futures is particularly a threat to Nymex, and it will be more of a threat when Brent crude becomes the international benchmark, replacing WTI.
Shares of NYSE Euronext and ICE were halted in premarket trading this morning. NYSE Euronext closed at $24.05 last night, in a 52-week range of $22.25 to $31.25. Intercontinental shares closed at $128.31 last night, with a 52-week range of $110.67 to $142.75.