WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) has approved the Intercontinental Exchange's (ICE) acquisition of NYSE Euronext, bringing the merger one step closer to completion, the regulator said in a filing released on Friday.
The SEC said it endorsed proposed rule changes relating to the merger of the exchanges, which were consistent with securities laws and regulations.
The ICE has not yet commented on the approval, and the NYSE Euronext hailed it. "We welcomed the decision," NYSE Euronext spokesman Rich Adamonis said.
Shareholders of both companies and the European Commission have also approved the deal, currently valued at about 10 billion U.S. dollars.
However, completion of the merger still requires approval from individual country regulators in Europe.
The two companies plan to spin off Euronext, NYSE's Continental European stock markets, after the deal is finalized to avoid potential political opposition in Europe.
ICE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Sprecher said on Aug. 6 that the deal was expected to close this fall.
The acquisition approval has pushed up shares of both companies on Friday, when ICE shares climbed 1.12 dollars to 181.47 at closing, while those of the NYSE Euronext, parent company of the two-centuries-old New York Stock Exchange, were up 22 cents to 42.07 dollars.
Founded in 2000, the Atlanta-based ICE has expanded rapidly through acquisitions over the past decade. It announced the proposed acquisition in December 2012, aiming to create a global exchange operator across diversified markets, including both stocks and financial derivatives.