AOL Takes Stake In Latin Brokerage

America Online announced today that Buenos Aires-based financial services Web site LatinStocks.com has signed an agreement to provide the giant online service provider with content and online stock trading.

Under the terms of the deal, AOL will take an undisclosed minority stake in LatinStocks.com.

Expanding Presence In Latin America

This deal is the latest effort in an overall strategy by the Dulles, Virginia-based AOL to quickly expand its presence throughout Latin America. Just last week, the company launched a Portuguese-language Web site in Brazil, in partnership with closely-held Venezuelan media conglomerate Cisneros Group.

Operations are scheduled to launch in Mexico and Argentina by mid-2000.

Additionally, AOL has reportedly earmarked $200 million (US$) for its continuing foray into an exploding Latin American e-commerce marketplace.

The local content from Web sites such as LatinStocks.com will help AOL compete against Latin American players such as Brazil’s UOL and New York-based StarMedia Network, Inc. AOL’s Latin American sites will be linked to LatinStocks.com, which gets about two million page views per month.

“We are committed to consolidating alliances with strategic partners and making sure information can be accessed and transactions done online in an easy and convenient manner,” said CEO of AOL Latin America Charles Herington.

Latin American E*TRADE?

By the end of the year, LatinStocks.com hopes to begin offering trading of regional stocks, bonds, and mutual funds to AOL’s Latin users by forming alliances with brokerages in each country to execute the sales. This strategy differs from LatinStocks.com’s main rival in the area, Patagon.com, which is gobbling up brokerages throughout the region for its online trading operation.

LatinStocks.com currently offers market price quotes, analysis, news and online trading at its site in Spanish, Portuguese and English.

About LatinStocks.com

LatinStocks.com began as a school project when CEO Leandro Martino was studying management at Harvard University in 1997. Martino founded LatinStocks.com in January 1998.

Exxel, a buyout fund backed by U.S. investors such as Rockefeller & Co. and the Ford Foundation, bought into LatinStocks.com in August by acquiring a 60 percent stake in the company. The buyout fund plans to model LatinStocks.com after U.S. online brokers in an attempt to dominate the Latin American online trading arena.

LatinStocks.com, which currently employs 28 workers, plans an initial public offering on the Nasdaq next year and hopes to raise $40 to $50 million through a private equity placement by the end of this year.

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