E*Trade Takes Stake In Pan-European Stock Market

Online financial services company E*Trade Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: EGRP) continued its international push today by announcing that it has taken a 2.26 percent stake in Easdaq, a pan-European stock market for international growth and technology companies.

The Menlo Park, California-based company did not disclose the price it paid for the stake, but Easdaq said in a statement that it received EUR 3.2 million (3.4M US$) from E*Trade and Susqhehanna partners, a trading firm.

Founded in 1996 and run as a commercial operation, Easdaq has received EUR 26 million (27.6M US$) from a long list of shareholders this summer, as it gears up to bringing pan-European reach and its dual listing with Nasdaq to emerging companies.

Among the major stockholders of the exchange are American company Knight/Trimark Group, the British Equitable Life Assurance, Dutch ING Group and Belgian KBC Securities. E*Trade joins BancBoston Robertson Stephens, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Deutsche Bank and others as minority shareholders.

“As E*Trade builds the world’s leading electronic personal financial services company, we look forward to participating in the development of Easdaq as a world class next generation exchange,” said E*Trade International President Judy Balint. “Our investment in Easdaq will enable E*Trade to be at the forefront in delivering expanded opportunities for individual investors.”

Planting a Global Flag

E*Trade has expressed an intent to launch Web sites in 20 of the top financial markets in the world, and currently has operations in seven countries.

This month alone, E*Trade acquired majority control of its joint venture in Germany and bought out its Nordic operation to become a wholly owned subsidiary. In doing so, E*Trade formed partnerships with banks and financial firms in Sweden, Norway and Germany.

Both regions are important to the company. The Nordic countries of Sweden, Norway and Finland place in the top 15 of Internet use in the world, and Germany’s 80 million residents offer a huge customer base that has already demonstrated its enthusiasm for e-commerce and online services.

E*Trade also officially launched a site in Japan earlier this month. With the site, a joint venture with ubiquitous Japanese Internet investor, Softbank, E*Trade Japan hopes to tap into the world’s second largest Internet market after the United States.

The company closed its $122 million (US$) acquisition of TIR Holdings, an international financial services firm with annual revenues of $100 million, last month. TIR has some 600 institutional customers and holds seats on a number of stock exchanges throughout the world.

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