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Cortal sets up in Spain and in Italy

Opening of a branch in Madrid before year-end 2000 - Acquisition of a brokerage house ("SIM") in Milan

Cortal continues with its development in Europe through the setting-up of a branch in Madrid before year-end 2000, and contemplates on the same date acquisition of J.D. Farrods, an Italian company for the distribution of investment products set up in Milan.

Cortal - the leading on-line broker in France, established in Belgium since 1992 (fourth-largest on-line broker) and in Luxembourg since 1993 - is expanding its European presence to two important countries in Southern Europe - markets with strong growth in on-line brokerage and in the distribution of investment funds.

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Present in Spain since the autumn of 1999 through an off-shore on-line brokerage offer via its Internet website,, Cortal will be offering a complete range of savings products for private individuals in Spain. This range of products will associate on-line brokerage through Internet on 9 international stock markets as well as a supermarket of investment funds and short-term investment products.

Cortal is extending to Spain its multi-channel strategy of the distribution of financial products dedicated to a broad public. Access to Cortal's services will be possible through Internet, by telephone, face to face in the Investment Centres (Madrid, and later Barcelona) and through partnerships with companies having a broad customer base and a strong reputation in Spain.

Two partnership agreements have already been signed in 2000, one with Invertia, a subsidiary of Terra Networks, the leading financial portal in Spain, and the other with Infobolsa, the information portal of the Madrid Stock Exchange and among the leading Spanish financial websites. Other partnership agreements are expected to be announced in the weeks to come.

Jean-Christophe Gougeon, 37, has been appointed Director of Cortal España. Beginning his career at Cortal in 1987, he created Cortal's network of independent financial advisors in France and then, from 1992 to 1999, took over the commercial development of Cortal in Belgium.
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In Italy, Cortal is contemplating the acquisition in December 2000 of the brokerage house, J.D. Farrods, a distributor of investment funds that has existed since 1991. Backed up with a network of thirty independent financial advisors ('promotori') set up throughout Italy, J.D. Farrods currently manages 11 million euros in investment funds and in life insurance.

Purchase of this company, which will take on the name of Cortal Financial Advisor SIM ("societa d'intermediazione mobiliare") at the time of the acquisition, will provide Cortal with a local base of operations for its development in Italy: strong expansion of the network of promotori is expected in 2001 as well as the opening of a branch in Milan in mid-2001.

Cortal will provide J.D. Farrods with its experience of direct marketing and distribution of investment products by Internet and telephone. The range of products and services offered to J.D. Farrods' clients will be enriched, thanks to Cortal, with a stock brokerage offer and a supermarket of investment funds.

The mission of Cortal is to help European individuals build and manage their savings. Customers are given access to services covering all mutual funds and principle stock markets.
A subsidiary of BNP Paribas, Cortal counted 579,000 Clients at the end of October 2000, including 32,000 outside France.