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Merrill Lynch Launches Online Brokerage

Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. Tuesday hopped on the Internet brokerage bandwagon, announcing that it will offer online stock transactions and personal financial services as well expand an e-commerce venture with Visa and other partners.

The e-commerce service will offer unlimited online transactions and personalized investment services from a personal financial consultant on a single-fee access plan priced at a minimum annual fee of $1,500. The plan includes Merrill Lynch's Visa Signature card and rewards program, various cash management services, access to research, and e-commerce discounts. It is scheduled to be available in July.

Merrill Lynch's Internet channel will offer online stock transactions for $29.95, with services such as online mutual fund purchase, cash management service and Merrill Lynch research. The channel is set to launch in December.

Merrill Lynch also added a service for online business clients, including discounts from Works.com and other various partners, and participation in the Visa Signature rewards points system.

"Whether clients want advice and guidance from a skilled financial consultant, convenient, self-directed Internet investing, or some combination, they'll get it at Merrill Lynch," said David Komansky, chairman and CEO.