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DLJdirect, Hutchison Whampoa to Debut Online Brokerages in Asia

DLJdirect and Hong Kong-based conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. Tuesday formed a joint venture to bring DLJdirect's services to seven Asian countries.

The 50-50 joint venture will bring the brokerage to China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Indonesia. U.S.-based DLJdirect (DIR) previously launched a site in Japan with Japanese bank Sumitomo. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Hutchison Whampoa, which is making major waves in Asia through its recent Internet plays, will add its branding and customer base to the mix. A data center, a call center and Hutchison's WAP functionality technology will also be carried to the venture. Wireless access to DLJdirect's services is seen as a major advantage in the deal, allowing the companies to tap Asia's well-developed wireless market.

Users can access U.S. market trading as well as trading action on the local level. The brokerages are expected to roll out later this year.

"This new relationship compliments our very successful partnership in Japan with Sumitomo and brings us closer to our goal of developing a global trading platform," said Blake Darcy, DLJdirect's chief executive officer.

"We believe that there is tremendous potential for online investment services in this region," said Hutchison Whampoa Group Managing Director Canning Fok. "It is expected that up to 40 to 50 percent of current retail trade volumes could switch to the online business, as experienced in South Korea and Taiwan, which are to date, probably the most advanced online trading markets in Asia and the world."

Hutchison Whampoa is part of the Li Ka-shing group of companies which together represent 16 percent of the total market capitalisation of the Hong Kong stock market. The group has ties to several of Asia's most prominent Internet businesses.

Hutchison's tom.com IPO is one of a handful of developments currently spinning Hong Kong's Net sector into an investor frenzy. Li Ka-shing is father of Richard Li, Pacific Century CyberWorks's leader, and appeared as a potential ally in merger talks which led up to PCCW's $38.1 billion purchase of Cable & Wireless HKT earlier today.

The conglomerate also has $1.2 billion with Global Crossing for a network build in China, and with NTT DoCoMo for mobile operations including wireless Net access. The company is also one of four participants in e-commerce portal iBusiness Corporation.com, and is Priceline.com's Asia partner for sites in China, Hong Kong, India, Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.



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