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J.P. Morgan Sets Up Merchant Banking Arm
Reuters
LONDON — U.S. investment bank J.P. Morgan on Thursday launched a new business unit specializing in e-finance with a budget of $1 billion in its first year alone.

The new unit, LabMorgan, will identify and develop promising e-commerce initiatives in the area of financial services, said Thorkild Juncker, Europe head of the new global business.

"We have so much to bring to bear in the financial area and if you combine that with an ability to bring projects ahead quickly then you have a fantastic proposition," he told Reuters.

J.P. Morgan plans to spend $1 billion via LabMorgan this year to develop e-finance ideas, including those generated from within the investment bank, he added. "J.P. Morgan intends to commit up to $1 billion to electronic business initiatives in 2000, the majority of which will be invested as capital in promising ventures," the bank said in a statement received in London.

Spending is likely to rise in future years. "I would expect so and that would be a sign of success I think," Juncker said.

J.P. Morgan said LabMorgan would be cost neutral to the company's planned expenses.

The new unit planned this year to build a staff of nearly 200 professionals world wide to screen and accelerate ideas, identify partners and commit capital.

"We expect LabMorgan to be a catalyst for transformative global growth for J.P. Morgan, helping us expand our client franchise, drive capital markets innovation and advance productivity," J.P. Morgan chairman Douglas A. Warner said in the statement.

LabMorgan will work with J.P Morgan's other business groups to capture the flow of e-finance ideas inside and outside the firm, the company said.

"We are looking to build and nurture e-finance ideas that will shape the future of financial services, expand our client base and the markets themselves, and commercialize our marketable technology infrastructure," Nick Rohatyn, head of LabMorgan, said in the statement.

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