HSBC Holdings and Merrill Lynch are planning to launch a joint venture online brokerage operation in Germany next year, according to a report in financial broadsheet Handelsblatt.
The Handelsblatt report says the companies will use the trading platform and staff members of insolvent brokerage Systracom Bank AG for the venture. The newspaper says Klaus-Peter Moritz, former management-board spokesman of Systracom, is to be managing director of the German venture, effective 1 September.
According to Nathan Moss, chief operating officer of the companies' already existing joint venture in Britain, Merrill Lynch HSBC, the target group will be so-called 'mass affluent investors', or the upper middle class. The minimum initial investment for clients at the British venture is £10,000.
The paper says the new brokerage won't have branches, but will offer advice, with customers obtaining research from both firms at the same time institutional investors receive it.
Handelsblatt holds out little promise for the venture however, citing unfavourable market conditions, and the recent failings of Credit Suisse's pan-European online brokerage.