Merger will challenge Europe’s online investment banks

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The Swedish online investment bank, EPO.com AB, with offices in Stockholm, London, Paris and Helsinki, is preparing a merger with one of the leading German online investment banks, Virtuelles Emissionshaus AG (VEM AG) in Munich. This merger will create an unrivalled number one player in Europe for Electronic Public Offerings. The ultimate goal of the new company, called EPO.com Online Investment Bank AG, is to be able to offer EPOs on a pan-European basis. 

There is an outstanding market for an independent online distribution of shares to retail investors – a powerful new channel for issuing companies and investment banks. For all parties of the Initial Public Offerings (IPO) process the EPO is faster, more convenient and more efficient than the traditional way of distributing shares. The technology for the transactional system has already been used successfully in Sweden by EPO.com and in Germany by VEM in over 40 completed transactions. 

An EPO is a new business concept in which the complete issue process during an IPO, from publication of a prospectus to registration and the distribution of shares, is carried out on line. 

The new company employs 40 or so professionals in London, Paris, Munich, Stockholm and Helsinki. Further offices will be opened shortly in Milan, Amsterdam and Madrid. The company already has 120,000 registered online members, and the membership is growing rapidly. The headquarters will be in London, and the registered office will be in Munich – one of the most important locations for high tech companies in Europe. 

Ola Lauritzson, founder and CEO of EPO.com and also the CEO of the new company, says: “The merger with VEM in Germany will make us the leading European online investment bank and emphasizes our increasingly successful expansion and growing credibility in Europe. VEM is a well known and respected IPO provider in Germany that presents EPO.com with an ideal springboard into the German market. The merger will also create great opportunities for entrepreneurs, investment banks and private investors in Europe.” 

Andreas Beyer, the CEO and founder of Virtuelles Emissionshaus, says: “Both VEM and EPO.com have successful track records in Europe. We complement each other. EPO.com is looking to gain a foothold in the German market and we are eager to expand across Europe. EPO.com is the perfect European partner and I am looking forward to working with them and developing the business together.” 

At the next VEM annual general meeting to be held in the near future, the VEM shareholders will be asked to formally approve the merger with EPO.com AB and the issue of new VEM shares to compensate former EPO.com AB shareholders. Upon approval the company name will subsequently change to EPO.com Online Investment Bank AG. The EPO.com main shareholders have already approved the merger. 

EPO.com AB, founded in 1998 by Ola Lauritzson, has 80,000 registered clients and is thus the leading online investment bank in Northern Europe. Among the shareholders of EPO.com are [email protected], Banc Boston, Catalyst Fund Management & Research and Swedish Internet venture capital firm Catella IT. 

VEM AG, founded in 1997 by Andreas Beyer, was the first German online investment bank to obtain a German banking license as well as the first to participate in an equity offering to private investors in October 1998. 

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