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Stock market merger leaves Zurich in cold

The London Stock Exchange and Frankfurt's Deutsche Börse are merging, creating a European mega-bourse. However, the Swiss exchange remains decidedly out in the cold.

The Zurich bourse has joined neither the London-Frankfurt axis or the Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels alliance. Leo Hug, spokesman for the Swiss Stock Exchange told swissinfo the bourse was not being inactive.

"We have our options and we have our strategy, and we will communicate this as and when we have news."

The merger announcement between London and Frankfurt brings to an end two years of on and off negotiations. The new combined market will be called iX, and comes amid increasing competition, most notably from the new e-commerce trading platforms.

Pressure has also been mounting from the big international brokers to create a unified Europe-wide trading system, making business cheaper and avoiding duplication of technology investment costs.

The merger of London and Frankfurt was accelerated after the birth of Euronext, which brings together the Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam stock markets.

The new London Frankfurt bourse will split the business between the two markets, with blue chips traded in London, and technology stocks traded in Frankfurt. iX has also signed a letter of intent with the technology Nasdaq market in the US to form a European market for growth stocks.

"Well I think we will lose the big volume on the Swiss bourse, all the big blue chips will be traded on this new stock exchange," said Herbert Fritschi, senior analyst at Zurich Cantonal Bank

The new iX market is already holding talks with the Milan and Madrid stock exchanges about more possible link-ups. Many on the markets now think the Swiss bourse will have to make its move on joining a major alliance sooner rather than later.

Swiss traders feel the Swiss bourse has already made substantial moves in the direction of linking up with other markets. "The German and the Swiss options exchanges are already linked and that link could certainly be extended to the stock side," said Eleonore Cherrez of Bank Leu.

by Tom O'Brien

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