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E*TRADE, E-data to Create E*TRADE Africa

E*TRADE Group Inc. Monday broke into unchartered territory for the global brokerage player, becoming one of the first big-name online trading services to enter Africa.

E*TRADE announced a joint venture deal with E-data Holdings Ltd. to establish E*TRADE Africa. E*TRADE will control the majority interest of the company, which will be capitalized with $15 million.

E*TRADE Africa will begin its roll-out with the development of E*TRADE South Africa. E-data will support the new subsidiary with the acquisition of South African securities and banking company Brait Securities.

E*TRADE (EGRP) points to South Africa's 1.2 million strong online population, a figure which has doubled every year since 1994, as a motivator for the new expansion. Online trading is not new to the region, with five new contenders entering the market in the last six months.

"By establishing E*TRADE Africa, we are one of the first multinational online investing companies to recognize the potential of this region," said Judy Balint, E*TRADE International's president and CEO. "While we will initially focus on South Africa, which represents the largest economy on the continent and an important emerging market worldwide, we plan to eventually expand into other growing markets within the region."

E-data is known for establishing an online platform for information on South African corporations.

E*TRADE's efforts for a cross-border trading service may be bungled by regulatory obstacles with its Telebanc acquisition, but E*TRADE's recent maneuvers -- investing in a pan-European exchange and consolidating of its subsidiaries, among the tactics -- may still keep its international empire on track.



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