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U.S. Drops Antitrust Lawsuit Against Deutsche Boerse, NYSE

The U.S. Justice Department said it dismissed an antitrust lawsuit and proposed settlement agreement with Deutsche Boerse AG and NYSE Euronext because the two exchange owners have given up on their proposed merger.

The lawsuit and settlement are “no longer necessary since the parties have formally abandoned their plans to merge,” the Justice Department said in a statement today.

Deutsche Boerse and NYSE Euronext terminated their merger agreement Feb. 2, a day after European antitrust regulators blocked the transaction because it would have concentrated too much derivatives trading in the hands of a single entity.

The Justice Department had cleared the transaction Dec. 22 on the condition that a Deutsche Boerse unit sell its 31.5 percent stake in another U.S. equity market, Direct Edge Holdings LLC. The proposed settlement resolved the concerns about competition the Justice Department outlined in a lawsuit filed the same day.

At its peak, a combined New York-based NYSE Euronext and Frankfurt-based Deutsche Boerse would have been valued at more than $26 billion.

Scrutiny of the proposed acquisition was greater in Europe, where a merger would have united the region’s two biggest derivatives exchanges, NYSE’s Liffe and Deutsche Boerse’s Eurex.

The takeover would have put more than 90 percent of the European exchange-traded derivatives market and about 30 percent of the region’s stock trading in the hands of one company. Deutsche Boerse’s Eurex is the region’s biggest derivatives exchange, while Liffe is the second-largest.

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