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CME Group wins anti-trust regulators' approval to buy KCBT

By Tom Polansek

CHICAGO (Reuters) - CME Group has received approval ahead of schedule from U.S. anti-trust regulators to buy the Kansas City Board of Trade, although the deal is not yet finalized.

Regulators determined ahead of the end of a 30-day review period that the transaction was not anti-competitive and that they would not object, a spokesman for the Federal Trade Commission said on Wednesday.

The decision was first made public in an FTC report on Tuesday.

CME, which owns the Chicago Board of Trade, agreed in October to buy the Kansas City Board of Trade for $126 million in cash, beating out several rivals before clinching the deal.

The purchase cements CME's dominance in world grain futures markets and keeps rival IntercontinentalExchange from gaining an important foothold in agriculture.

CME dominates agricultural futures with its benchmark grain and soy contracts. The Kansas City Board of Trade trades a variety of bread wheat known as hard red winter wheat.

ICE challenged CME earlier this year by launching five look-alike U.S. grain and soy futures contracts.

CME said in a statement that the deal with KCBT is expected to close before the end of the year, "pending approval by KCBT shareholders and regulators, and completion of customary closing conditions." A spokesman declined to comment further.

KCBT's board of directors has already approved the transaction. A KCBT spokeswoman said she could not discuss when shareholders will act.

(Reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by Marguerita Choy)