The link-up follows the alliance formed last summer between the London and German stock exchanges and a series of talks between the heads of the various European bourses towards the end of last year.
According to insiders, the decision of the SWX Swiss Exchange and the SBF-Paris Bourse to sign a partnership agreement presented no impediment to the creation of apan-European stock market.
Most saw the Swiss-French link-up as an attempt to increase bargaining power vis-a-vis the London and Frankfurt exchanges rather than as a move to create a competitor to the Anglo-German alliance.
A spokesman for the London Stock Exchange said: "Our discussions with the European exchanges have confirmed our common objective of building a pan-European stock market. The statement from the French and Swiss exchanges re-emphasises their intention to work towards that."
Jean-Francois Theodore, chief executive of the Paris Bourse, said: "This agreement takes international co-operation one step further."
Under the terms of yesterday's partnership agreement, members of both exchanges should be able to trade Swiss and French equities and bonds by the summer.
Meanwhile, members of the Chicago Board of Trade, the world's largest futures exchange, voted to scrap plans to join forces with Eurex, the German-Swiss derivatives exchange. CBOT members voted 450 to 390 against the alliance after David Brennan, the new CBOT chairman, voiced concerns about the terms of the deal. Eurex is now expected to seek alternative partners.
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