Societe Generale, NEC to Launch Japan Net Trading

TOKYO (03/29/2000) - French banking group Societe Generale Group today announced an aggressive move into the Japanese online trading market with the disclosure of plans to launch an service with NEC Corp. in the second half of this year.

Speaking at a Tokyo press conference this morning, Societe General Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Daniel Bouton outlined the main features of the new service, which, if it were launched today, would be the most feature-rich online trading service available in Japan.

At the heart of the system is the company's Global Trading System (GTS) software, developed by subsidiary Fimatex, which offers a direct link into the computer systems of major markets. This represents the service's largest unique advantage, said Bouton, by offering investors the same access to the markets as the dealing room of a major bank, including such data as real-time streaming quotes.

At launch, SG Online plans to offer access to the Tokyo, New York, Nasdaq, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Brussels, Milan and Madrid markets, said Fimatex chairman and chief executive officer Vincent Taupin at the press conference. Other services planned for the new venture include trading in bonds, investment trusts and foreign exchange margin trading.

The company isn't just aiming at Internet users. Like Societe Generale's sister services in Europe, there are plans to roll out versions for use on cellular telephones, using both the i-mode and WAP (wireless application protocol) systems, voice recognition and interactive TV. Taupin said trading via WAP is already being offered by the group in France and Germany.

With this menu of services it hopes to attract 300,000 users within its first three years of operation. Its target customer will be someone who trades approximately five times per month and has a portfolio of approximately 8 million yen (US$75,000).

To launch the service in Japan, Societe Generale turned to NEC. The alliance announced with the Japanese company today calls on NEC to provide the expertise and technical support for the development of SG Online's computer system and marketing and advertising support through promotions on its Biglobe Internet service provider.

The deal with NEC could potentially be expanded to include construction of the company's call center and the supply by NEC of personal computers to SG Online for bundling with the service as an online trading package.

For NEC, the deal comes at a good time. Its long-anticipated restructuring into a company focused on the Internet is due to take effect on Monday. Of the company's three new divisions, NEC Solutions will be working with Societe Generale on all aspects of the service. It also gives the electronics manufacturer and its Biglobe ISP division, Japan's second largest in subscriber terms, an affiliated online trading system.

Rival ISP @nifty, which is owned by Fujitsu Ltd., announced earlier this year that it will work with Nikko Securities Co. Ltd. to promote the latter's NikkoBeans online trading service. Sony Corp. is a major shareholder in online broker Monex Inc.

[See "Fujitsu, Nikko JV Promotes 'Net Trading," Jan. 13 and "Online Upstart Targets Japan's Big Brokers," Sep. 9, 1999].

Societe Generale, in Paris, can be found online at NEC Corp., in Tokyo, can be found online at

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