Nasdaq Talks With ICE About NYSE Bid Are Ongoing

NASDAQ MarketSite Tower, Times Square, New York, NY
NASDAQ MarketSite Tower, Times Square, New York, NY

A source close to Nasdaq tells CNBC that discussions with the ICE about a competitive bid for the NYSE ongoing, and that the U.S. exchange operator sees a potential deal as an "opportunity" rather than a necessity.

Nasdaq's board is apparently ready to proceed, and it has lined up $5 billion in necessary financing. At the same time, Nasdaq continues to look at other options.

CNBC has also learned that Nasdaq CEO Robert Greifeld and ICE Chief Executive Jeffrey Sprecher last spoke on Monday and continue to have discussions about pursuing a bid for NYSE, though no final decision has been made.

Some have speculated that one major issue standing in the way of a hostile bid is the hefty breakup fee — around $350 million dollars. A source tells CNBC that the Nasdaq considers the fee to be excessive and is looking at the legality of it.

Still, a source tells CNBC that the breakup fee is not a deterrent in deciding whether to attempt to break up the NYSE's deal with Deutsche Bourse.

Tomorrow, Nasdaq boss Bob Greifeld will be in South Carolina for a conference. Also in attendance will be Christine Varney, from the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division. The source said the fact they both are appearing at the conference is a coincidence.