Duncan Niederauer, CEO of NYSE Euronext, still thinks the proposed merger with European exchange Deutche Borse has a chance.
"I'm not giving up yet. We have next week still to work through the deal. This is an industry that absolutely should consolidate," he told CNBC Friday.
The final decision is up to EU competition authorities, who will issue a final decision on February 9. They are expected to block the deal that would create the world's largest exchange, on concerns that linking trading and post-trading activities would worsen competition problems, rather than solve them.
As NYSE and Deutsche Borse are the two most dominant players in derivatives markets in Europe. The merger would thus put more than 90 percent of the region’s exchange-traded derivatives market and about 30 percent of European stock trading in the hands of one organization.
Most NYSE investors are saying the deal is dead. While Niederauer acknowledges these doubts, he says nationalism and protectionism as the culprits blocking the deal.
"If you look back on the last 12 to 15 months, in an industry that absolutely should consolidate. We've have seen three global deals not get consummated all for various reasons and it does appear that at least in our case, nationalism and a little bit of protectionism are winning out over regional pride," he said.
Merger or no, Niederauer attempted to ease investor concern. "Investors can expect to hear from us pretty soon, to hear what our capital management approach will be. But sure, I'd rather operate as the merged company," he said.