The New York Stock Exchange, an icon of American capitalism, took a crucial step toward ceding control to a German company on Thursday, as investors threw their support behind a planned merger.

Some 65.6 percent of NYSE Euronext shareholders backed the $9.4 billion takeover of the company that owns the NYSE by Deutsche Boerse AG , based on preliminary vote results from the NYSE. The final vote results are expected on Friday.

The deal also requires approval from 75 percent of Deutsche Boerse shareholders by Wednesday of next week and then would have to survive a thorny European Commission antitrust review that could run through the rest of the year.

(1 eur=$1.43)

(Reporting by Paritosh Bansal in New York and additional reporting by Ann Saphir in Chicago)