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EO LAUNCHES EO-X WITH UK’s LEADING RETAIL BROKERS

London, 13th August 2001 – EO today announces the launch of EO-X, a unique new way by which retail stockbrokers will be able to offer a wider range of new issues to their clients. EO-X will offer issuers and investment banks efficient access to this important source of demand. This service will be fully operational in September.

The UK’s leading retail stockbrokers, including Barclays Stockbrokers, Charles Schwab Europe, Charles Stanley, Davy Stockbrokers, DLJdirect, E*Trade UK Limited, Halifax Share Dealing, IMIWeb UK, Lloyds TSB Stockbrokers, The Share Centre and Stocktrade, among others, will be participating in EO-X. Together these banks and brokers have in excess of 3 million broking accounts.

The marketing of EO-X to the retail broker community is supported by APCIMS (Association of Private Client Investment Managers and Stockbrokers) the trade body whose members include the retail brokers in the UK. Participation in EO-X will be available to all member firms of the London Stock Exchange.

EO-X will be responsible for distributing information relating to new issues to the retail brokerage community and for aggregating their orders. Private investors will be able to access new issues through their existing brokers whether by internet, phone or through branches. The brokers will present their orders via a secure interface to EO-X which will present aggregated orders to the sponsor on a real time basis in line with current institutional practices. EO-X will additionally be responsible for marketing and coordination with issuers and investment banks on behalf of participating retail brokers.

Retail brokers who are members of EO-X will benefit from:

· access to a broad range of new issue investment product throughout Europe from leading financial institutions;
· access to the EO-X system, enabling brokers to participate in new issues and submit demand through a simple and secure single interface;
· a full range of approved marketing materials to assist in marketing the offer to potential investors; and
· up to date information during live deals on allocation and settlement details.

Issuers and investment banks will be able to market new issues more effectively to retail investors in the UK. In particular, EO-X will:

· provide a single point of access to the retail broking community in the UK;
· significantly reduce the requirement for printed prospectuses and associated costs of marketing for issues; and

· allow retail demand to be managed and monitored on a real-time basis in line with practices adopted for institutional investors.

EO-X will work together with its member brokers to provide sponsors with detailed information of the trading patterns of their investors. Such a service will support allocation to private investors by emphasising their record of long-term retention of new issues and their track record of buying shares in the after-market.

In addition to access to UK new issues of equity, debt and structured products, retail brokers will also be offered access to cross-border new issues, an area of growing potential as harmonisation of European securities legislation gathers pace.

EO-X has been designed by EO plc, the pan-European new issue distribution service, and Solid Solutions Associates, which has acted as a consultant to issuers in many of the UK’s largest retail offerings.

Commenting on the launch of EO-X, John St John, CEO of EO plc, said:

"We are delighted to have assembled such a prestigious launch group of retail brokers for EO-X which will provide investment banks with access to a substantial source of demand for new issues. The launch of EO-X radically improves the efficiency of accessing retail investors thereby enhancing the capital raising process for issuers."

Angela Knight, Chief Executive of APCIMS, said:

"The private investor has been left out of too many new issues for too long. EO-X redresses the balance and provides them with the opportunities that they have been wanting."