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CNBC Exclusive: Thain Sees NYSE Expanding Into Asia Next

In an exclusive interview on CNBC, NYSE Group Chief Executive John Thain said Asia is the next logical place for the Big Board to expand.

"Whether it's Japan, India or China, those are big growing marketplaces and I think they have a lot of opportunity for us," Thain told CNBC's Maria Bartiromo on the floor of the exchange.

Thain's comments came after NYSE shareholders overwhelmingly approved the stock exchange's merger with Euronext, a pan-European stock exchange, at the NYSE Group's annual meeting. Euronext owns exchanges in France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium and the London-based derivatives market Liffe.

The NYSE has already had preliminary talks with the Tokyo Stock Exchange, but Thain said since Tokyo and other Asian exchanges are owned by members rather than shareholders, they wouldn't be able to do a merger or acquisition.

"Initially, you'll see a...joint venture type of structure," Thain told Bartiromo. "None of the Asian exchanges are demutualized in a way that would allow this kind of transaction," he said, referring to the Euronext deal.

The NYSE would also consider expanding into the U.S. futures business.

"We will not be specific about any transactions, but the futures business is a great business," Thain said. "We now have Liffe, which is a very big and successful business in Europe, so trying to find a way to access the U.S. market is an opportunity for us."

The Euronext deal is expected to close toward the end of the first quarter. Thain will be the chief executive officer of the overall company, while Euronext CEO Jean-Francois Theodore will serve as deputy CEO and continue to run European operations, Thain said.

Most of the cost savings derived through the merger will come from technology savings, not cutting jobs, Thain said.

"Between the two of us, we spend $650 million a year on technology," Thain told Bartiromo. "As we consolidate the trading platforms, the data centers and networks we will save $250 million of that $650 million and that is really the main expense savings."

One of the drivers behind consolidation among exchanges is the "continual downward pressure on pricing," he added.

"We can take two platforms, consolidate them into one and then bring costs down for users of the exchange," Thain said. "I think you'll continue to see downward pressure on transaction pricing and that will be better for the users."

Meanwhile, Thain said exchanges will operate using two separate ruleboooks. European issuers that are not listed in the U.S. "didn't want to be subject to U.S. laws," he said. "We are (being) very careful to keep the exchanges themselves separate so companies listed on the NYSE are subject to U.S. rules, and companies listed on Euronext are subject to European rules."

The Securities Exchange Commission agreed with the College of Regulators in Europe that they would each respect the other's jurisdiction, Thain added.

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