NYSE Looks East

Big Board CEO John Thain eyes Asian exchange deals.
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John Thain, the CEO of the

New York Stock Exchange


, is eyeing Asia.

The NYSE has yet to complete its planned $10 billion merger with Paris-based


, but Thain is already considering deals with Asian stock markets. Thain confirmed Tuesday that the Big Board has had "preliminary'' talks with the Tokyo Stock Exchange about some sort of joint venture.

"I believe there will be linkages into Asia," says Thain, who spoke at a conference sponsored by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in New York.

But Thain was vague when it came to specifics. While he acknowledged that officials at the NYSE and the Tokyo have been talking to each other, he didn't comment on news reports that each exchange may take a 10% equity stake in the other.

Indeed, Thain avoided the word merger in talking about the Asian exchange. The Big Board chief executive officer says an outright acquisition is unlikely.

Meanwhile, the Tokyo exchange said Friday that it has "held discussions with the NYSE focusing on business alliance, and has investigated a variety of different possibilities." The Japan-based exchange says it "will look into such alliances with other exchanges abroad.''

Thain says one complicating factor in any talks with the Tokyo exchange is the fact it is not a public company. He says the Tokyo exchange would have to go through a demutualization process before the NYSE took any action.

"But it does make sense" and "over time will occur," he adds.

The NYSE and Tokyo talks come amid an intense round of consolidation in the exchange sector. NYSE and Euronext announced in June that the Big Board would pay $10 billion for the pan-European equities and derivatives exchange. Euronext had previously rejected offers from the Frankfurt exchange, Deutsche Boerse.

Barring any regulatory hiccups or intensified pressure from Deutsche Boerse, the merger between NYSE and Euronext is still expected to close next quarter. Shareholder votes from both companies are expected in December.

Shares of NYSE rose 55 cents, to $73.98.