Merrill Lynch, Salomon Smith Barney, Thomson Financial and Microsoft will create a new company, called i-Deal, to automate some of the processes involved in raising capital, issuing stocks and other activities on Wall Street.
The idea is to merge investment banking with new technologies in a way that will boost the efficiency of an industry where deals are becoming increasingly global and led by multiple partners, the companies said.
Merrill Lynch and Salomon Smith Barney plan to offer the Web-based i-Deal platform to their clients. The platform will also be licensed to broker dealers and is expected to be broadly available in the first half of 2002.
The deal offers Microsoft an opportunity to find a home for its latest products in the finance industry. The company has been working hard to sell its server software into large corporations. The i-Deal platform will use Microsoft's .Net enterprise servers, including BizTalk, which integrates business applications.
The i-Deal system would tie in with businesses' existing, proprietary computer systems using XML technology, the companies said. The platform aims to let bankers and investors manage all parts of a deal, including monitoring transactions, reviewing prospectuses and conducting online roadshows.
The process of issuing securities will become faster and more efficient, because parties will be able to access information from numerous sources on a single platform, the companies said.
As part of the arrangement, i-Deal will acquire Thomson Financial's New York-based Dalcomp unit, providing it with software used to issue municipal securities, as well as relationships with some of the largest investment firms. I-Deal will also offer Thomson's market data.