Softbank, Lehman Bond Trading Network Licensed

TOKYO (07/03/2000) - E-Bond Securities Co. Ltd., a joint venture of Softbank Finance Corp. and Lehman Brothers, said Monday it has received official approval to open its Internet-based electronic trading system for fixed-income bonds.

The approval, which the company said is the first for a proprietary trading system since market deregulation in 1998, clears the way for the company to launch the system, which it hopes will become an important secondary market for bond trading. The system will connect buyers and sellers of bonds across the Internet rather than through an over-the-counter market run by securities dealers.

The venture is targeting securities companies and institutional investors as clients for the new network, which will offer access to almost all bonds issued in Japan with the exception of Japanese Government Bonds.

"We plan to launch the service beginning in September," said Naoki Yokoyama, president and chief executive officer of E-Bond. The company had previously predicted a June launch date for its service, although this has been delayed.

Yokoyama said the need to meet several regulations of the Japan Securities Dealers Association caused the delay.

E-Bond said it is also in the final stage of talks with several financial services firms regarding taking stakes in the venture and expects to make further announcements later in July. Softbank Finance currently owns a 60 percent stake; Lehman Brothers holds the remaining 40 percent stake.

E-Bond Securities, in Tokyo, can be contacted at +81-3-5259-2759 or found online at http://www.e-bond.co.jp/.

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