Joint bidders NASDAQ OMX and IntercontinentalExchange just threw another $350 mn chip on the table to sweeten their merger offer for long-time rival NYSE Euronext.

NASDAQ and ICE today boosted their offer for the Big Board by adding a $350 mn ‘reverse termination fee’ and put renewed pressure on NYSE’s board to meet with them. 

The termination fee ‘demonstrates our confidence’ in winning anti-trust and competition approvals in the US, the bidders say.

On February 15, NYSE and Deutsche Börse announced they had agreed to an all-share merger, but NASDAQ and ICE subsequently made a superior cash-and-shares proposal for NYSE.

The joint NASDAQ/ICE bid is worth $42.67 per NYSE share, a 21 per cent, or $2 bn, premium over the value of the Deutsche Börse transaction, according to NASDAQ.

‘Our actions today demonstrate our commitment to pursuing this transaction and further illustrate exactly how our proposal is superior,’ comments Robert Greifeld, chief executive of NASDAQ OMX, in a statement.

‘This should also eliminate any concerns that the NYSE Euronext board has about engaging in discussions with us. It’s time to allow a reasonable and expeditious diligence process to begin.’