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E*TRADE Buys TIR Holdings, Eyes Global Network

In a move to globalize its brokerage empire, E*TRADE Group Inc. Tuesday acquired international financial services company TIR Holdings Ltd. in a stock deal worth $122 million.

E*TRADE is calling the move a "critical element" in its aim to create the first cross-border trading network for online investors.

TIR offers global multi-currency securities execution and settlement services, as well as independent research to institutional investors. Boasting more than 600 institutional clients, TIR plays the markets in more than 35 countries and holds seats on multiple stock exchanges.

E*TRADE intends to overlay its technology architecture on the TIR network as part of its long-term strategy to make available to international investors the same trading services it currently offers to domestic markets.

"Building the infrastructure for a global 24x7 business is central to E*TRADE's financial services strategy," said Christos M. Cotsakos, E*TRADE's chairman and chief executive officer. "E*TRADE plans to deploy a highly automated, cross-border trading network by combining TIR's existing trading network, international expertise and research operations with E*TRADE's technology leadership and growing global brand."

E*TRADE plans to launch branded Web sites in the top 20 global financial markets. The company has thus far launched online brokerages through E*TRADE Australia, E*TRADE Canada, CPR-E*TRADE in France and E*TRADE Sweden. E*TRADE UK and E*TRADE Japan are expected to be live by September, as joint venture deals with local partners.

"It is also planned that retail customers of E*TRADE-branded sites around the world will gain access to international markets -- something only available to institutions and high-net worth individuals until now," said Judy Balint, president of E*TRADE International.

The first phase of E*TRADE's electronic trading network will enable inbound cross-border trading from international affiliates to the U.S. markets. E*TRADE expects the first E*TRADE affiliates to begin U.S. inbound cross-border trading during the next 12 months.

E*TRADE expects full integration of TIR to be completed in the next year. The company's recent merger with Telebanc, which is anticipated to be closed this fall, will be the first to combine online banking and online trading.