The New York Stock Exchange and the Archipelago Exchange announced Wednesday that they have entered a merger agreement that will lead to the combined entity, NYSE Group, Inc., which will be a for-profit, publicly-held company. 

If approved by regulators, NYSE members and Archipelago shareholders, the merger will represent the largest-ever securities exchange and combine the world's leading equities market with the most successful totally open, fully electronic exchange.

Under the terms of the agreement, NYSE members will receive cash and stock in the new company, while Archipelago shareholders will receive stock. Current Archipelago shareholders will hold 30% of the shares of the new company and current NYSE owners will hold 70%.

NYSE CEO John Thain will become CEO of NYSE Group, and Archipelago CEO Jerry Putnam will join the NYSE's Catherine R. Kinney and Robert G. Britz as the new company's co-presidents.

The deal is expected to close either in the fourth quarter of this year or the first quarter of next year.

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