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ICE looks to sell part of Euronext ahead of IPO

IntercontinentalExchange is looking to sell at least a quarter of Euronext, the European stock exchange group, ahead of an initial public offering that is expected this year, according to people familiar with the situation.

A sale would allow the U.S. derivatives exchange group a way to circumvent regulatory requirements that it hold a long-term stake in Euronext, which operates the main stock exchanges in Paris, Amsterdam, Lisbon and Madrid.

Traders work at the InterContinentalExchange Inc. (ICE) booth on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)Jin Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Bankers are preparing to approach European-based funds and banks in the coming weeks about purchasing a stake in Euronext, two people said. ICE and Euronext declined to comment.

Atlanta-based ICE secured regulatory approval for its $11 billion purchase of NYSE Euronext, which closed in November, in part by assuring European authorities that it would hold a stake of at least 25 per cent for more than three years after a float of Euronext.

(Read more: NYSE-Euronext integration right on track: ICE)

ICE will be freed of the obligation if it can find other long-term investors prepared to hold the stake long after the Euronext float, due to take place over the summer.

The company became the world's second-largest exchanges operator by market capitalization after the NYSE transaction closed and has long earmarked the remaining parts of Euronext for a sale or listing.

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