Tradepoint plans for pan-European service

The competition to create a pan-European stock market heated up yesterday as Tradepoint said it would be the first to offer the service.

Tradepoint Financial Networks, currently a minor player in London backed by 11 brokerages and banks, said it would launch the first pan-European exchange to trade blue-chip equities, on 10 July.

The move will pit Tradepoint against Euronext, a merger announced last month between the Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels bourses. It will also compete with any combined London-Frankfurt stock exchange.

The pattern of fragmented stock markets across the Continent had made cross-border dealing in shares costly and complicated.

Steve Wilson, director of business development at Tradepoint, said: "There's been an awful lot of talking between the major exchanges over the last couple of years. We're actually getting on with it."

Yesterday, the Paris stock exchange said that the door remained open to London to joint Euronext. The ParisBourse said the LSE has yet to reply to Euronext's merger proposal, made earlier this month.

It is thought the LSE and Frankfurt aim to reach a conclusion on negotiations before 4 May, when the Deutsche Börse holds a meeting with its shareholders. The LSE has said that it is also talking to other exchanges.

Tradepoint's Mr Wilson said that these rivals had yet to set out a viable business model. "We have a starting date, the technology and a clearing house in place," he said.

Tradepoint will initially add 230 continental European equities to the 2,000 UK stocks on offer in July, to cover the companies in the major European indices. The service will use the London Clearing House as a central counterparty, to guarantee the trades. The trades will be cleared through Euroclear, an industry co-operative.

Critics have said that Tradepoint lacks the necessarily liquidity. Tradepoint said it handles just 1 per cent of the UK equity market.