EU securities watchdog to keep out of Euronext debate

FRANKFURT Thu Nov 21, 2013 11:58am EST

FRANKFURT Nov 21 (Reuters) - The European Union securities market regulator is unlikely to interfere with IntercontinentalExchange Group's (ICE) planned spin-off of newly acquired Euronext, the watchdog said on Thursday.

ICE, which closed its $11 billion takeover of NYSE Euronext last week, said on Tuesday that it is planning an initial public offering (IPO) for the exchange operator by next summer but did not rule out a sale of the business.

Sources told Reuters last month that French and Dutch regulators were seeking to prevent Euronext - operator of the Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and Lisbon stock exchanges - from falling into foreign hands.

However, they are unlikely to receive support from the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the chairman of which told Reuters that he plans to stay out of the debate over the fate of Euronext.

"Securities regulators do a lot, but they don't determine market structure," Steven Maijoor said in an interview on Thursday. "In principle, it's up to the market participants to decide whether they merge or divest."

Sources close to Deutsche Boerse this week said that the German stock exchange operator was not interested in buying Euronext.

Earlier in the week, The Wall Street Journal cited people familiar with the discussions as saying that Deutsche Boerse, London Stock Exchange Group and Nasdaq OMX Group were considering bids for Euronext.

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