The Deal: Sense of the Markets: For Now at Least, Euronext May Stay Single

NEW YORK (The Deal) -- A planned initial public offering of Euronext has raised the possibility of a takeover of the pan-European exchange operator but potential trade buyers are likely to be wary. On top of that, political pressure from Paris, concerned about being financially sidelined by Frankfurt and London, may make a sale to a foreign bidder even more difficult.

Atlanta-based IntercontinentalExchange Group (ICE), or ICE, earlier this month completed its $11 billion acquisition of NYSE Euronext and said it hoped to carve out and list Euronext by the summer. The move was expected: ICE had promised to make Euronext independent to appease regulators worried about a trans-Atlantic powerhouse.

However, the planned IPO may have flushed out interested suitors, including several who have made previous runs at the bourse. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the continent's three main exchange operators -- London Stock Exchange Group (LSE.L), Frankfurt's Deutsche Borse and Nasdaq OMX Group (NDAQ) -- had all at least mulled an offer.

All three refused to comment, and analysts said that though the three would be interested, Euronext's main stock trading activities were no longer as interesting to rivals since they are looking for growth in derivatives and markets farther afield.

Euronext itself is a combination of stock exchanges in Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris and Lisbon. It lists companies that had combined market capitalizations of $2.8 trillion at the end of 2012 -- compared with nearly $6.5 trillion on the London Stock Exchange and $1.6 trillion at Deutsche Borse.

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