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Online Brokers, Venture Capital Firms to Form Investment Bank

Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., TD Waterhouse Group, Inc. and Ameritrade Holding Corp., Monday joined forces with venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Trident Capital and Benchmark Capital to launch a new online investment bank.

The new firm, which is yet to be named, is expected to be operational early next year and will concentrate on underwriting, managing and distributing equity offerings for information technology and Internet companies.

Futures plans call for providing research to individual and institutional investors and, eventually, private placement and strategic advisory services to issuers. Scott Ryles, formerly a managing director and head of technology investment banking at Merrill Lynch, will serve as chief executive officer.

The firm will offer investors and issuers a powerful new mechanism for enhanced distribution, improved targeting of long-term investors and more open investor access. The three brokers currently serve 4.5 million customers, or more than 50 percent of online investors.

Ryles said the move recognizes the fact that online investing has brought about a fundamental change in U.S. markets.

"Many customers of online brokerages own shares in technology and Internet companies going public today. Yet these investors generally have not been able to participate fully in the initial public offering process," Ryles said.