The Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday delayed a decision on whether to give a group of Chinese companies the go-ahead to buy the 135-year-old Chicago Stock Exchange.
The controversial deal is being questioned by some members of Congress, who fear the sale would allow a foreign government to gain a foothold in the U.S. financial system.
The SEC had been expected to rule Wednesday on the sale, valued at roughly $30 million. Instead, the regulatory body said SEC commissioners would make the final decision about the deal in the coming weeks, a move that overrides a recommendation by commission staff that the sale be approved.
"We are confident that, upon further review by the Commissioners, they will also conclude that this transaction is consistent with the Exchange Act," a Chicago Stock Exchange spokesman said.
The investment team that would acquire the exchange, according to documents filed with the SEC, is being led by Chongqing Casin Enterprise Group. Anthony Saliba, a board member of the exchange and one of several investors in the deal, wrote in a blog post that the Chinese government is not involved in the transaction. He noted that the exchange will continue to be owned mostly by Americans and have an independent board of directors.
The Chicago Stock Exchange is small, accounting for only about a half of a percent of the nation's trading volume. All trading at the exchange is done electronically without a live trading floor.
Saliba said the "acquisition will breathe vital working capital into the exchange." He also said it will create opportunities for small investors to invest in small companies and IPOs.