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Last updated: May 5, 2011 2:52 am
Intercontinental Exchange, the US exchange operator, intensified its campaign to take control of NYSE Euronext’s futures business with a blistering attack on a rival bid by Deutsche Börse and NYSE Euronext, which it characterised as “absurd”, “risky” and full of “empty promises”.
ICE and Nasdaq are offering a higher price to buy NYSE with the aim of splitting its futures and equities exchanges between them, giving ICE control of Liffe, the London-based futures exchange. NYSE’s board has rejected the proposal twice, calling it an “empty vessel”.
Jeff Sprecher, ICE chief executive, hit back on Wednesday, saying: “It’s understandable why NYSE Euronext’s response has been focused on attacking our superior proposal,” he said.
“The alternative is to acknowledge and address the serious deficiencies in the Deutsche Börse takeover.”
He made his remarks as ICE reported first-quarter net income of $129m, or $1.74 per share, up from $101m, or $1.36 per share, in the prior year quarter.
Excluding extraordinary items, net profit was $131m, or $1.77 per share, above analysts’ average forecasts of about $1.69 per share.
Mr Sprecher revealed he had first been in talks almost 10 years ago about buying a stake in Liffe – which was acquired in 2002 by Euronext, which was in turn bought by NYSE in 2007 – but had been unable to strike a deal.
The ICE chief said that while he wanted to run Liffe as a viable business in its own right, under the Deutsche Börse bid it would “likely be gutted and for all intents and purposes moved to Frankfurt to be subsumed as part of a European product set within the Deutsche Börse”.
His comments came as Deutsche Börse published its offer to its investors to tender their shares in return for shares in a Dutch holding company being created for the merger with NYSE Euronext.
The deal needs holders of at least 75 per cent of the German group’s shares to approve it. It also needs regulatory clearance by March 2012 from the European Union, as well as authorities in the US, Germany and seven other countries.
Investors can tender their shares until July 13, by which time NYSE shareholders are expected to have voted on whether to approve the merger plans.
However, Mr Sprecher said it was “absurd” to imply that the combined entity – which would be based in the Netherlands – would be a US company. “Billions of dollars worth of NYSE stock could be dumped on the market by its current institutional shareholders as a result of this new status,” he claimed.
ICE shares were down 1.4 per cent at $114.85 in New York.
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