New York Stock Exchange members today overwhelmingly approved the merger with electronic stock exchange Archipelago Holdings Inc., a deal that will create NYSE Group Inc., a publicly traded exchange, confirmed John Thain, the Big Board's CEO. More than 95% of the 1,366 members who cast ballots voted in favor of the deal, which was announced last April. More than 90% of the members voted.
"It's a historic event," Mr. Thain said in a conference call with reporters after the votes were tallied. Athough most of the votes were cast by proxy, the membership meeting was well attended, he said.
"A lot of the attendees were members who had been members for many, many years, and they really wanted to be present for this historical transaction," Mr. Thain said. "The tone was very supportive, very positive and there was lots of applause."
The deal, approved earlier today by Archipelago shareholders in Chicago, had been challenged by a small group of members who had argued that it was unfavorably skewed toward Archipelago shareholders and that it was rife with conflicts of interest. Their lawsuit to postpone today's vote was settled on Nov. 15; the settlement was approved Monday by New York State Supreme Court Judge Charles Ramos.
Mr. Thain said that assuming the deal, which still needs SEC approval, closes toward the end of January, a secondary offering of NYSE Group stock will take place in late February or early March.
Mr. Thain will be CEO of the new company, while Archipelago CEO Jerry Putnam will become co-president with current NYSE co-president Catherine Kinney.
Under terms of the deal, NYSE seat owners will receive $300,000 cash and 70% of the new company, with Archipelago shareholders getting the remaining 30%.
The NYSE is expected to release official results on Wednesday.