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French Brokerage Bourse Direct Enters Nouveau March�

The rush of online brokers to the French stock market seems to have begun, with the first site ready to enter the Nouveau Marché on November 10.

The online brokerage Bourse Direct is set to put 25 percent of its capital on the market, at an estimated 11.8 to 13.5 million euros.

Bourse Direct aims at becoming one of the top five French brokers in the next three years. In that time, Bourse Direct expects to grow its client base to more than 24,000 accounts among which 15,000 will come from its Bourse Discount service.

To reach this goal, the company expects to increase its marketing and advertising budget to up to 20 million francs next year and again to more than 45 million francs in the year 2001.

Many current customers are traders who place about 9 orders per month and who have an average of about $35,000 in stocks. Larger numbers of individual investors are expected to pour in at the end of the year when its Bourse Discount service will be opened. This service will also deal with the American exchanges (Nasdaq, Amex and NYSE).

Bourse Direct said that so far, 35 percent of its orders are made through the internet, 30 percent by telephone and 35 percent by Minitel. Bourse Direct claims to have 2,150 customers, with 13,000 orders placed per month via its partner Xeod Bourse, which in turn belongs to the group Banques Populaires.

The company expects its 1999 turnover to hit 4.74 million euros.