Stock market operator NYSE Euronext has confirmed it is in "advanced discussions" about merging with Deutsche Börse AG to create the world's largest stock exchange.
Financial experts say the proposed deal could face tough scrutiny from regulators in Europe as well as in Washington, D.C. due to concerns such a powerful symbol of the U.S. economy might come under foreign ownership.
"There is very little argument or debate that the financial system has a national-security aspect," said Farhad Jalinous, a national-security lawyer at Kaye Scholer LLP, told the Wall Street Journal.
"When you're talking about the biggest stock exchange in the world, I'd not be at all surprised if the government takes the view that this is critical infrastructure," he concluded.
Joseph Cangemi, chairman of the Security Traders Association, also noted that traders will be monitoring the combined entity to make certain it doesn't use its influence to drive up fees.
"With this all happening around us and the small disappearing, the big cannot take advantage of their size and we need to monitor that," he told the Journal. "Now they have two giant distribution networks on both sides of the Atlantic and those access points are robust, big and deep."
News of the plan comes days after the announcement of a merger between two other rival exchanges - the London Stock Exchange Group PLC and TMX Group Inc., which operates the Toronto Stock Exchange.