Soft commodity traders discuss fears of ICE takeover of NYSE

LONDON Fri Feb 1, 2013 6:25pm GMT

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LONDON Feb 1 (Reuters) - Traders and brokers on NYSE Liffe soft agricultural commodity markets met this week to discuss fears IntercontinentalExchange's planned takeover of their contracts may create a near monopoly and hike trading fees, sources who were present said.

ICE's interest in Liffe's parent, NYSE Euronext, was announced in December when details of an $8.2 billion deal emerged. The deal still requires regulatory approval.

The ICE and Liffe exchanges together make up the vast majority of global cocoa, coffee and sugar derivatives trading, but dealers said fees on ICE are considerably higher.

The meeting took place on Wednesday in London, two sources who had attended said on Friday.

"The meeting was convened out of a shared concern as to what the implications of this takeover were, and there was a degree of unease that one exchange would hold a monopoly across those products," one of the sources said.

"What was taken from that meeting is there seems to be enough people concerned about this to have a proper consultation."

ICE declined to comment.

The source was unable to give a time line for the group's next steps, other than to say they would now seek input from other market users.

Soft commodities are a sideshow to the larger logic behind the ICE deal, which would propel the exchange into European financial futures and help it to take on rival CME Group .

ICE, which was founded in 2000 and whose main operations are in energy futures, added the softs complex - arabica coffee, cocoa, raw sugar, frozen concentrated orange juice and cotton - in 2007 when it bought the New York Board of Trade.

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