The early weeks of 2012 will be decisive for the future of the proposed merger between Deutsche Borse and NYSE Euronext. After the US administration gave a conditional go-ahead for the merger, on 22 December 2011, the Commission is expected to issue a verdict, on 9 February, but does not seem inclined to authorise the transaction without additional concessions. An intense lobbying effort is under way in Brussels to counterbalance this unfavourable stance.

The merger of the German stock exchange and NYSE Euronext, which groups the New York, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Lisbon exchanges, announced on 15 February 2011, would create the world's largest operator active in all stock market activities (cash, derivatives, delivery-versus-payment, custodial services and market data). Although the US Justice Department made its green light contingent only on the sale by Deutsche Borse of its 31.5% stake in the US operator Direct Edge Holdings, the European Commission is calling for more substantial undertakings from the parties to the merger, owing to the higher risks to competition in the EU.

Experts at the Commission's Directorate-General for Competition are mainly concerned about overlaps in the options sector and are not satisfied with the parties' proposal to sell certain entities on the stock options market in Europe (among them Bclear) and, for the purpose of maintaining competition on securities index futures and forward rate agreements markets, to give their competitors access to Eurex Clearing, the...

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