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CME Holdings: Today Chicago, tomorrow...

Chicago's futures exchanges are merging to create a Gollath that dominates in the U.S. Now they're mounting attacks overseas -- and on the $370 trillion OTC market.

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08 Mar 2007

Loren Fox

When Chicago Mercantile Exchange chairman Terrence Duffy met for dinner last summer with his Chicago Board of Trade counterpart, Charles Carey, the talk quickly turned to a third exchange chief, who wasn't at the table: John Thain. In June the New York Stock Exchange CEO had struck a $10 billion deal to acquire Paris-based Euronext, turning the Big Board into a serious threat to both Chicago markets: In addition to its pan-European stock market, Euronext owns London-based Euronext.liffe, the world's fourth-biggest futures exchange.

Thain's move disturbed longtime crosstown rivals Duffy and Carey. The combined NYSE and Euronext would be the first transatlantic bourse to offer both stock and derivatives trading. It would also sport a gaudy market value of more than $21 billion -- about the same as the CME and the CBOT's combined capitalizations -- making it an even bigger worry at a time of rapid global consolidation among exchanges.

The Chicago markets had toyed with tying up for decades, but internal politics and a legacy of long-simmering feuds got in the way.

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