After rumors that Nymex Holdings was on the "for sale" block spread like wildfire on Friday (see Daily GPI, June 18), speculators honed in on New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)/Euronext, Deutsche Boerse and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) as the shortlist of potential suitors. While Nymex's stock climbed 6% Friday to close at $142.12, the publicity from the news reports wasn't welcomed by all parties.

Late Friday CME, which has been focusing all of its attention on its heated bidding war with IntercontinentalExchange for the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), issued a statement denouncing suggestions of its involvement in the potential acquisition of the owner of the New York Mercantile Exchange. With the all-important CME and CBOT shareholder vote on the proposed merger looming on July 9, CME was quick to make public its intentions in order to allay any CBOT concerns.

"CME is not currently in any discussion with Nymex regarding a merger or acquisition," CME said. "We remain focused on completing our merger with CBOT and look forward to our shareholder vote on July 9."

Some market watchers familiar with the situation said the news of Nymex putting itself on the block really comes as no surprise. One New York-based broker said he expected that CME would be the major suitor once it finished buying CBOT, especially since "Nymex is already in bed with CME on Globex."

One of the prevalent rumors now is that the NYSE is going to bid over $14 billion for Nymex. As of Friday afternoon, Nymex's market capitalization stood at $13.1 billion.

Market watchers noted that Nymex sale talk goes all the way back to the company's initial public offering (IPO) in November 2006 (see Daily GPI, Nov. 20, 2006). "I think this whole Nymex IPO last year was the set-up for a sale," the broker said.

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