The Nasdaq Stock Market plans to announce on Friday that it has agreed to buy Nordic bourse owner OMX as it expands beyond the US market, according to sources familiar with the situation.
Such a deal would give Nasdaq a platform in Europe following its unsuccessful bid for the London Stock Exchange earlier this year.
Shares of Nasdaq, the largest US electronic stock market, were halted after 4 pm on Thursday in New York for news pending. Nasdaq declined to comment on what the news would be.
Trading in OMX shares was suspended earlier on Thursday amid speculation that a bid for the company was expected. The Swedish group said it would make an announcement on Friday.
OMX, which has a market value of about $ 3.17 billion, said last month it was in talks with several exchanges, but had not received any bids.
A spokesman at OMX, which owns and operates exchanges in Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Reykjavik and the Baltic states, declined to comment.
"This would bring Nasdaq a higher quality business mix with international listings and equity trading as well as some derivatives trading," said Fox-Pitt, Kelton analyst Edward Ditmire.
Ditmire said that "most reasonable price ranges and synergy assumptions" would produce a deal for Nasdaq that would add to its earnings.
Following the LSE's rejection of its final bid in February, Nasdaq has been under pressure to get a deal done as its rival exchanges consolidate.
The New York Stock Exchange merged with Paris-based Euronext to form NYSE Euronext, and Frankfurt-based Deutsche Boerse said it will buy New York-based International Securities Exchange.
A battle between the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc and IntercontinentalExchange Inc. over CBOT Holdings Inc, owner of the Chicago Board of Trade, has added to the dealmaking froth.
Nasdaq has also had to contend with new rivals like BATS Trading, an electronic communication network.
At the Reuters Exchanges and Trading Summit in New York earlier this month, Nasdaq Chief Executive Robert Greifeld said Nasdaq would continue looking for deals.
"We will do deals. I can't really be any more direct than that," Greifeld said at the Reuters summit.
Asked what type Nasdaq might be interested in, Greifeld told the summit: "We are the world's best exchange at processing high volumes of relatively simple instruments. We need to lever that."
Greifeld said cash equity and options businesses could meet his criteria and that geography was not a barrier. "I don't care if it's in Philadelphia, South Africa, Singapore, Norway, or anywhere."