Euronext markets to float within months

IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) has tapped JPMorgan and Société Générale to organise the stock-market listing of a stake in its European equity operations, NYSE Euronext, insiders said.

The Euronext bourse, which runs markets in Paris, Lisbon, Brussels and Amsterdam, may be sold as soon as next year, sources said, in a deal that could raise about €750m (£639m).

The initial public offering (IPO) is expected to see about 50 per cent of Euronext floated in Paris in the second half of next year, one of the sources said.

If it takes place, it will call time on an experiment to unite the biggest US and European stock-exchange operators – which kicked off in April 2007 after New York-based NYSE Group snapped up Paris-based Euronext for $14.3bn (£9.1bn).

The decision to float Euronext is part of plans to ease regulatory approval in Europe and keep the combined group's focus on US operations, an insider told Reuters.

But while an IPO is the most likely route, Euronext may also combine part or all of its activities with European rivals such as Germany's Deutsche Borse or the Russian, Polish or Austrian stock exchanges.

"ICE and NYSE will listen to propositions," said one source.

But ICE is expected to keep NYSE's London-based Liffe interest rate futures exchange.

Jeffrey Sprecher, IntercontinentalExchange's chief executive, first said in December that the European business would be reviewed for a possible sale. His company agreed to buy the New York Stock Exchange owner for cash and stock worth about $8.2bn nine months ago.

American regulators approved ICE's acquisition of NYSE Euronext just last week, bringing the company one step closer to completing the transaction – although the merger still requires approval from individual country regulators in Europe.

Bankers are expecting further sector consolidation during the coming months as exchanges attempt to boost revenues by diversifying products.

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