The Chicago Board Options Exchange, the US’s biggest options exchange, moved close to an initial public offering on Wednesday when a Delaware judge approved the settlement of a long-running legal dispute with members of the Chicago Board of Trade.

The CBOE is one of the world’s last remaining big members-only exchanges. It was created by the CBOT in 1973, a legacy that left many CBOT members holding trading rights in the CBOE.

Members who kept their trading rights argued that they were entitled to a share of the CBOE when it demutualised. The CBOT was taken over in 2007 by the CME Group, a development that the CBOE argued eliminated members’ eligibility. The two sides reached a deal last year under which the CBOT claimants will receive an 18 per cent stake in the CBOE and a cash payment of $300m.

Bill Brodsky, CBOE chairman and chief executive, said he was “extremely gratified to have reached this important milestone on the path to CBOE’s demutualisation.” Though exchange valuations have plummeted, the CBOE could be worth more than $3bn.

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