The Swiss stock exchange (SWX) has received an invitation from the German bourse in Frankfurt to “expand existing cooperation”.
The SWX said both parties planned to hold negotiations but would not comment on speculation about a possible merger of the two exchanges.
“I can confirm that we have received a letter to enter talks about a closer cooperation, but I can’t comment further on the contents,” said SWX spokesman Werner Vogt.
A spokesman for the German bourse, Walter Allwicher, also confirmed that a letter was sent out relating to talks about “deepening cooperation”.
A deal between the Zurich-based SWX and the German stock exchange would cement already existing ties.
Both own a 50-50 stake in Eurex, the world’s largest derivatives exchange founded in 1995.
The SWX said it was open to possible new cooperation agreements in future.
“Owing to its strategic positioning and healthy financial structure, the Swiss exchange aims to cooperate actively in the consolidation process amongst European stock exchanges,” the SWX said in a statement.
“New agreements, alliances or other kinds of financial integration will be considered if they contribute towards strengthening the Swiss financial centre.”
Some analysts have speculated that talks between the SWX and its German rival could lead to a merger.
“But this is a very theoretical option, and only this. Both SWX and the German bourse are not under any pressure to act,” one unnamed source told Dow Jones Newswires on Sunday.
Paul Meier, chairman of the Swiss Futures and Options Association, said further consolidation in Europe was inevitable.
"These things are going to come. The days of national exchanges are limited. In general, you are going to wind up with one or two exchanges in Europe."
swissinfo with agencies
The SWX and the German bourse jointly own Eurex, the world's largest derivatives exchange.
Eurex was launched in 1998 with the merger of DTB (Deutsche Terminbörse) and SOFFEX (Swiss Options and Financial Futures Exchange).
Eurex had a record annual turnover of more than one million contracts in 2003, up 27 per cent from 2002.