The New York Stock Exchange said Wednesday that its shareholders overwhelmingly approved a planned $14.3 billion acquisition of Paris-based Euronext in a deal that would create the first trans-Atlantic financial market.

The cash-and-stock deal was endorsed by about 99.7 percent of shareholders who voted. More than 75 percent of eligible shareholders voted, NYSE (NYX) said.

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The vote came one day after the European exchange operator's shareholders approved the deal by a wide margin.

The shareholder votes set the stage for the NYSE Euronext to receive final regulatory approval early next year to become the world's largest stock market.

"Winning the approval of NYSE Group and Euronext shareholders enables us to move forward with our shared vision of building the first truly global exchange group," said John A. Thain, chief executive officer of NYSE Group Inc.

The deal comes among a flurry of activity among stock markets to become publicly traded companies, and not be left behind in a massive consolidation push.

Rival Nasdaq Stock Market Inc. (NDAQ) launched a hostile bid to acquire the rest of the London Stock Exchange in a deal that values that exchange at $5.3 billion. It already owns 28.75 percent of the LSE.

NYSE's pursuit of Euronext was not without criticism as many European investors feared U.S. regulatory encroachment. The Big Board also prevailed over a rival bid from Frankfurt-based Deutsche Boerse AG.

The NYSE and Euronext — which operates the Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and Lisbon stock exchanges — expect to complete their tie-up in the first quarter of 2007, pending formal regulatory clearance. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Euronext's five European regulators have already given tentative approval.

To help make the deal more tantalizing for European investors, Thain agreed last month that the board would be split evenly between U.S. and European directors. The original proposal called for Americans to outnumber Europeans by a 12 to 10 margin.

NYSE shares closed up $1.89 to $103.36 on Tuesday.

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