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Morgan to buy 5 per cent stake in Easdaq

WALL STREET investment bank Morgan Stanley Dean Witter is negotiating to buy a 5 per cent stake in Easdaq, the Brussels based pan-European hi- tech stock market.

The bank is also involved in the consortium of US banks which has ridden to the rescue of Tradepoint, the flagging rival to the London Stock Exchange, with a pounds 14m cash boost.

Easdaq, which is in the throes of an 18 million euro refinancing, was set up with ambitions to be Europe's answer to Nasdaq, the phenomenally successful American technology stockmarket. Although it has attracted some high profile listings including Dr Solomon, the software firm, and the airline Debonair, it has badly trailed rival markets set up over the past two years by Europe's existing stock exchanges specifically to target the explosion of private investor interest in hi-tech and Internet related flotations.

Easdaq has attracted 42 new companies since 1997, eight short of its original goal. By contrast, Euro.NM, the rival pan-European alliance of technology stock markets which includes Germany's Neuer Markt and France's Nouveau Marche, has 200 listings to its credit.

Nor has it stopped the drift of European technology success stories to Nasdaq. Debonair is just the latest to have announced that it is seeking a secondary listing on Nasdaq to boost demand for its shares.

Shares in Tradepoint soared 200 per cent to 186p yesterday after the agreement of a consortium including Reuters, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan to inject pounds 14m in return for a 55 per cent stake.