updated 11/8/2005 10:51:24 AM ET 2005-11-08T15:51:24

A group of dissident seat owners on the New York Stock Exchange asked a state court Tuesday to postpone a seat owner and shareholder vote on the Big Board’s proposed $6 billion acquisition of electronic rival Archipelago Holdings Inc.

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The 11 dissidents, led by longtime seat owner William Higgins, filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to halt the Dec. 6 vote for 30 days. During that time, Higgins requested that State Supreme Court Judge Charles Ramos appoint an independent board to review the merger.

The motion was sealed because the documents used to support Higgins’ argument for postponing the merger remain confidential. Higgins also asked the court to unseal those documents so they can be shared among the owners of the NYSE’s 1,366 seats.

Higgins has maintained that the NYSE is paying too much for Archipelago, an electronic trading platform, and shortchanging the seat owners. He filed suit in May to derail the merger, alleging that the deal was brokered for the benefit of Archipelago shareholders and NYSE’s management.

He has also claimed that the use of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to advise both the NYSE and Archipelago in merger talks — rare but not unheard of — created a conflict of interest since Goldman owns a number of NYSE seats and has a major stake in Archipelago.

In a statement, the exchange vowed to fight the motion and go forward with the Dec. 6 vote.

“A small handful of members today took steps to deny the vast majority of NYSE members their right to vote on the merger,” the statement said. “This action is wrong and is an affront to shareholder democracy.”

Higgins’ dissident group, which also includes former NYSE Director Kenneth Langone, has appeared to have gained little traction in gathering enough of a voting bloc among seat owners to vote down the merger. Archipelago shareholders are expected to overwhelmingly approve the deal.

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