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Nasdaq to acquire Brut for $190 million; Charles Schwab beefs up software functionality for active traders; Chicago Merc to provide Reuters' customers with direct futures trading.

The Nasdaq Stock Market will purchase Brut LLC, owner and operator of the Brut ECN, the electronic communications network, for $190 million in cash from SunGard Data Systems. In addition, and subject to completion of the acquisition, Nasdaq agreed to enter into a multi-year agreement for the continued processing of Brut trades by SunGard's Phase3, a real-time order-to-settlement securities-processing system. The board of directors of each company has approved the transaction, which is expected to close during the third quarter of 2004, subject to regulatory approval. Nasdaq says the Brut acquisition is intended to enhance Nasdaq's systems by providing Nasdaq with the ability to route orders via an internal broker/dealer to multiple liquidity pools in keeping with changes proposed by Reg NMS. It will also improve connectivity via the Financial Information Exchange protocol, Nasdaq says.

Charles Schwab rolled out an enhanced, software version of its Web-based Schwab Trader CT platform released earlier this year for active traders along a broad range of price cuts. The new version called Schwab Trader CT Pro features trading tools geared to the most advanced active traders, including streaming charting, a stock screener, advanced stops, the latest news as well as technical and client support via instant messaging, e-mail and phone. "Our new software provides yet another choice for this segment of traders who need fast execution, speed and trading power," states Andy Gill, senior vice president of active-trader marketing at Schwab in the release. "We believe that the depth of the Schwab Trader CT offering, from its competitive pricing, to its dynamic, powerful trading-tools and the high level of service traders can access, makes it the most compelling and economical offer for the mass active trading community," he further states in the release. The Schwab Trader CT offering is a key component of Schwab Personal Choice, a new approach to trading, investing and advice that allows investors and traders to choose how they want to work with their broker. As part of a broad range of price cuts announced on Tuesday by the company, the existing $9.95 commission for Schwab Trader CT clients now applies to online equity-orders of any size, no matter how many shares are traded. This eliminates the one-cent per-share additional charge for all shares over 5,000. The company is also reducing the number of trades required to wave the monthly account fee from ten to five dollars per month. As a result, the fee (when applicable) has been reduced from $40 to $20.

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange struck an agreement with Reuters to offer the CME's electronic foreign exchange (eFX) markets to Reuters global customer base in the professional FX inter-bank market. The CME says the agreement marks the first major linkage of sell-side traders in the interbank FX market to CME eFX futures markets where hedge funds and other major buy-side participants play a major role. Under the agreement, CME's eFX markets, traded on its Globex platform, will be accessed via Reuters Dealing 3000 desktop, which is used by 3,500 institutions located in 123 countries. Quotes on CME's eFX products will appear in spot (or cash) equivalent terms to make it easier for cash-market participants to draw price comparisons between the two markets. In addition, Reuters 3000 provides straight through processing of trades in Reuters Ticket Output Feed (TOF) standard.

In related news, FFastFill PLC and Future Dynamics Ltd were chosen to provide order routing and risk-control services for the new FX futures trading service. As launch partners, Futures Dynamics and FFastFill will independently work with banks to streamline their order flow and manage their position risk as trades are conducted from Reuters Dealing 300 platform into the CME via exchange clearing firms. Because of the financial guarantees provided by CME's Clearing House, banks will be able to trade with non-bank participants. The service will go live in the fourth quarter of 2004 and will initially debut in London, with roll out to additional markets in Europe, Asia and North America following. Participants will require minor technical adjustments to their existing Reuters workstations for connectivity.

Charles River Development signed a strategic agreement with Cameron Systems to ship the CameronFIX Engine as an integrated component of the Charles River Investment Management Systems (IMS). The addition of the Cameron FIX engine will enable users of Charles River IMS to seamlessly send and receive Financial Information Exchange (FIX)-based equity, fixed income, futures, options, foreign exchange and other trade messages directly from Charles River IMS. "Like Charles River IMS, the CameronFIX Engine is 100 percent Java-based, which supports native integration between our systems," states Arnold Wachs, Charles River, product manager, in the release. Charles River will ship the CameronFIX Engine as a component of Charles River IMS v8.0 at no additional cost to clients in the fourth quarter of this year. Current clients will be able to take advantage of CameronFIX through a software upgrade to v8.0. Charles River IMS will support FIX release 4.4 in its upcoming v 8.0 as well as FIX-based equity allocations and FIX-based trades and allocations. The system's current v7.2 supports FIX 4.0 through 4.2 and FIX-based fixed-income allocations with MarketAxess and TradeWeb.

Palisades Investment Partners, based in Santa Monica, Calif., went live with Indata I.M.S. for Windows System. After performing extensive due diligence on a number of vendors of both in-house and application service provider (ASP) offerings, "We selected Indata because they offered a platform that was more robust from an institutional standpoint for functions such as portfolio modeling, reporting and analytics, compliance and trade order-management," states Quinn Stills, chairman and chief investment officer, in the release. In addition, Stills states that an in-house systems gave the firm more control and flexibility over accessing and manipulating data for future applications and client customization.

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