NYSE Sale Shows New Reality of Trading

On a warm day in Boca Raton, Fla., the host of a reception for an annual financial conference was not a big bank or a powerful exchange as in years past, but a young firm based in Atlanta.

Guests who gathered at the oceanfront resort were surprised. They were greeted with bottled ice water that carried the company’s logo, and as they left, were invited to grab iPod Shuffles.

That event, some four years ago, was the Wall Street equivalent of a coming-out party for the firm, IntercontinentalExchange, or ICE, an electronic operator of markets for derivatives and commodities. Now, the markets upstart is announcing itself to a much larger world with an $8.2 billion deal to buy the symbolic cradle of American capitalism, the New York Stock Exchange.

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