In a second attempt since last April, two private equity firms have teamed up to offer to buy an equity stake in the New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex), the exchange reported on Thursday.

According to the Associated Press, which cited “people close to the Nymex,” New York private-equity firm Blackstone Group and Boston venture capital firm Battery Ventures VI LLP have proposed to buy a 20% stake in Nymex for $185 million.

“Nymex Holdings Inc. has received a preliminary indication of interest from two private equity firms, acting as a group, to acquire a minority stake in the company,” Nymex said Thursday afternoon. “This preliminary indication is subject to due diligence and other conditions and is being reviewed by the Exchange and its advisers.”

Asked whether the interested parties or the the proposed offer amount could be confirmed, Nymex spokesperson Anu Ahluwalia, said “As an SEC reporting company, the Exchange cannot at this time comment beyond what has been stated.”

This offer is a little different from the attempted stake purchase launched by Parthenon Capital LLC in April 2004 (see Daily GPI, April 12, 2004). In that deal, Parthenon offered to buy a majority stake, which Nymex Holdings’ board of directors turned down last August (see Daily GPI, August 9, 2004). Parthenon had offered to buy a 60% controlling interest in the exchange for up to $2 million per seat, or about $980 million for 490 seats on the exchange.

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