RealTime IT News

DLJdirect Heads to the Middle East

Online brokerage DLJdirect Tuesday expanded its discount brokerage services halfway around the world by offering its services to 14 countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

The expansion is the result of a joint venture between DLJdirect (DIR), Capital Union E.C. and Webtrade eVentures Ltd. The three companies will create a new firm, DLJdirect-eUnion, to offer investors in the region online access to U.S. securities markets.

Capital Union is an integrated investment and merchant banking organization registered in the State of Bahrain. Its shareholders include major regional investors such as the Olayan Group in Saudi Arabia, Juma' Al Majid Group in the United Arab Emirates, and Al Babtain Group in Kuwait.

Webtrade eVentures is an e-commerce company that focuses on the development of online financial services serving Arabic-speaking markets.

DLJdirect-eUnion will be based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, with Webtrade co-founder Ali F. Zahed serving as its president. It will offer its services to investors in Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The company said it intends to expand its coverage to include other international and regional markets in the future.

"We are pleased to partner with Capital Union and Webtrade, two respected companies in this region who will enable us to take simultaneous steps into markets across the Middle East," said Blake Darcy, chief executive officer of DLJdirect.

"Their established presence and local market knowledge will be important in helping us to best serve the needs of investors in a region that is experiencing rapid growth of Internet usage."

DLJdirect, a division of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, Inc. (DLJ), competes in the crowded online brokerage space against companies such as E*Trade, Ameritrade and Schwab.com. Tuesday's agreement marks the company's latest expansion overseas; it has also has offices in London and Tokyo.