According to the New York Times, once the merger is finalized, customers and shareholders in 14 European countries and the United States would potentially be in a position to trade stocks in New York, Paris and Frankfurt.
The New York Stock Exchange is a giant among exchanges, yet its dominance among investors has faded. While the ringing of the opening bell every morning and images of anxious or joyful workers on the trading floor represent the stock market to millions of people, increasingly trades are being executed by computers far from Wall Street, in places like Jersey City and Kansas City.
The Big Board has already undergone a radical transformation in just a few years, from a clubby non-profit organization where brokers on the floor handled most trades to a for-profit, multinational corporation engaged in largely electronic trading.
Some 1,300 equities and options traders now work on the floor of the exchange, down from nearly 3,000 a decade ago.
As a public company, its stock price has slumped 64 percent from a high in 2006.
So while news of the merger negotiations was the talk of Wall Street on Wednesday, some had already accepted that further change was needed.
"You probably need more consolidation," said Barry Smith, 44, a financial technology executive.
Under the terms being negotiated, the New York Stock Exchange - which began in 1792 when brokers gathered beneath a buttonwood tree in lower Manhattan to trade five securities of the new nation - would still have a headquarters in Manhattan. But the Deutsche Börse would own as much as 60 percent of the combined company, which would be incorporated in the Netherlands.
Competition among exchanges has grown more intense in recent years as investors seeking speed, lower costs and greater liquidity have flocked to electronic platforms that pay little heed to financial centers or tradition.
"There is a race toward exchanges becoming ever bigger," said Elie Darwish, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas in Paris.
He added: "This would give NYSE Euronext-Deutsche Börse an unchallengeable position."