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The Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade are poised to complete a merger that will create the world's largest derivatives exchange after shareholders of the organisations' parent companies voted to approve the deal, according to preliminary results.

According to Chicago Mercantile Exchange Holdings and CBOT Holdings, the companies plan to complete the merger once the results of the CBOT shareholder and member votes have been officially certified by the independent inspectors of election, IVS Associates, which is expected in the next few days.

'We are pleased that shareholders of both companies have demonstrated support for this groundbreaking merger,' says CME executive chairman Terry Duffy. 'The combination of CME and CBOT creates a strong international company better positioned to compete with growing global exchanges and the over-the-counter market.

'The combined company will transform the global derivatives industry and create efficiencies for customers and members while delivering significant benefits to our shareholders.'

CBOT chairman Charles P. Carey says: 'Today's votes clear the way for us to combine our two great exchanges and begin delivering the value of the merger to our customers and shareholders. We look forward to building on our shared legacies of customer service, product innovation and industry leadership to capitalise on the terrific growth opportunities we see in this global marketplace.'

Says CME chief executive Craig Donohue: 'Our integration teams have been working diligently to prepare for the combination of our two companies, and I'm confident that we will be able to hit the ground running once we close the transaction.'

'With this successful vote, we are one step closer to realising our vision. As a combined company, we will be the world's premier financial marketplace with unparalleled product breadth and global reach. This vote also ensures that Chicago remains the center for risk management worldwide.'

The combined company, which will be known as CME Group, will be the world's largest and most diverse exchange, the partners say, providing products in all major benchmark asset classes.

CME offers futures and options on futures in the areas of interest rates, stock indexes, foreign exchange, agricultural commodities, energy, and alternative investment products such as weather, real estate and economic derivatives, while the Chicago Board of Trade provides a diverse mix of financial, equity and commodity futures and options on futures products.

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