The Swiss stock exchange, the SWX, has started talks with a British company to set up a trading platform for European blue chip shares. If a partnership is struck, it could become a powerful force in Europe's rapidly consolidating securities market.
A joint statement from the SWX and Britain's Tradepoint Financial Networks said the talks were supported by the boards of both firms, and were expected to last three months.
The Swiss Exchange had already announced earlier this month that it was in talks with Tradepoint which plans to begin trading in around 300 European blue chips on July 10.
Analysts say the SWX will contribute its fully integrated trading, settlement and clearing system to the Tradepoint venture.
The SWX considers its electronic trading system its trump card in the consolidation process and says that its settlement and clearing costs are as much as 80 per cent lower than those of its rivals.
The announcement will answer critics who said the SWX was being too cool in the face of mergers between other European exchanges.
In March, the bourses of Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels announced that they intended to merge to form Euronext, while London and Frankfurt recently unveiled their iX proposal.
Consolidation of Europe's stock markets was sparked by the launch of the single European currency last year, and has gathered pace amid growing pressure from investors, banks and brokers for a more cost-effective system.
swissinfo with agencies