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) - Shareholders of the

NYSE Euronext


voted overwhelmingly in favor of the merger with

Deutsche Borse

on Thursday, in effect agreeing to cede control of the American icon of capitalism to the German stock exchange.

Over 96% of the votes were cast in favor of the merger. Deutsche Borse will get a near 60% stake in the merged entity and 10 out of the 17 board positions. The merger has, however, been touted as a merger of equals, with CEO Duncan Niederauer continuing to run the combined entity.

"This approval is an important milestone in our path to completing this combination, bringing us one step closer to creating the premier global venue for capital raising and a world leader in derivatives and risk management," Niederauer said in a statement.

The merger is still subject to the approval of shareholders of the German stock exchange. A 75% acceptance level will be required for the merger to go through. The acceptance period during which shareholders of Deutsche Boerse can tender their shares in exchange for shares in the new combined company will end next week, on July 13.

A still bigger hurdle could come from the anti-trust review by European regulators, who might be concerned that the combined entity will have a near monopoly on exchange-traded derivatives.

--Written by Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York

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