CaseCentral targets hosted service at investment banks

CaseCentral launched Monday a hosted online documentation and collaboration service targeted at investment banks.

Developed with the help of CitiGroup Inc.'s investment banking arm, Salomon Smith Barney Inc., the DealCentral Service is a Web-based service intended to replace paper, faxes and e-mail attachments. Remote users can have access to manage four types of financial transactions: the sell- and buy-side of mergers and acquisitions; private equity/venture capital investments; and public offerings.

The terrorist attacks such as those in New York and Washington -- which caused shutdowns of phone service and corporate networks -- have unexpectedly given the service an added use as a means of business continuity, said the CEO of the San Francisco-based vendor, Chris Kruse. One way for companies to provide continuity and access to important documents after a disaster is through hosted options, said Kruse. Many potential users of CaseCentral's hosted offering for legal services have already realized this, Cruse said.

"Two days after the attacks in New York, there were list services that we monitored that are legal-specific," Kruse said. "There were a number of requests being made for scanning vendors to put closing books online in New York and Washington."

The closing books are the "definitive documents" of a completed merger or acquisition, and firms were demonstrating that they saw a need for these documents to be digitized and made available via the Web, Kruse said.

Overall, Kruse predicts that there will be "a lot more imaging going on and documents put into a digital format ... I see more of a push for scanning."

The DealCentral service features: authentication and access control technology from Authentica Inc.; workflow customization; the delivery of a complete set of documents to ease due diligence and hasten data access; best-practices templates and administration capabilities; and the online sharing and modifying of documents.

The initial launch will be followed up with DealCentral modules for transactions in the construction/real estate and bankruptcy sectors.

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