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CBOT Board Authorizes Talks With ICE

CBOT Holdings, the parent of the Chicago Board of Trade, said Monday its board has authorized the company, on the basis permitted by its merger agreement with Chicago Mercantile Exchange Holdings, to begin merger talks with IntercontinentalExchange.

CBOT said its merger agreement with Chicago Mercantile Exchange remains in effect, and that its board has not withdrawn or modified its recommendation that stockholders vote to approve the deal.

Last week, Atlanta-based IntercontinentalExchange made an unsolicited offer to merge with the parent of the Chicago Board of Trade in a deal valued at nearly $10 billion. Based on the closing share price the day before the deal was announced, ICE's offer was 10.5% higher than the offer for CBOT submitted last October by CME.

CBOT shareholders are scheduled to vote on the CME offer on April 4.

The CBOT said it would not comment further on ICE's proposal until its board and its special transaction committee had completed a review.

Earlier on Monday, ICE suggested that a definitive deal with the Board of Trade could be completed quickly.

"We are confident that ... we can complete our review and be in a position to execute a definitive transaction agreement within one week," ICE chief executive Jeffrey Sprecher said in a release.

Sprecher will hold a meeting in Chicago on Wednesday to discuss the ICE proposal, which would join the CBOT to the upstart energy derivatives exchange.

In late trading at the New York Stock Exchange, ICE shares were at $128.55, up $2.17, or 1.7%. CBOT was up $6.21, or 3.3%, at $196.19, and CME shares were up $1.32, or 0.25%, at $528.32.