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January 1, 2004

Cuts at Soundview, Schwab Expansion

By Gregory Bresiger

Schwab Capital Markets, an institutional trading house, is looking to become a major player in research following its purchase of SoundView Technology Group. But Schwab may have to significantly reduce SoundView's headcount to satisfy Schwab's financial goals, according to one analyst. Schwab's CFO Christopher Dodds has "quietly stated" that Schwab will add 100 employees in the first quarter from SoundView, a research, sales and trading firm, according to Richard Repetto, an analyst for Sandler O'Neill & Partners. That "implies a cut of 150 from the approximate 250 headcount" at SoundView, he said.

Repetto notes that major expense reductions will be necessary for Schwab Capital Markets to meet its parent's stated goals of pre-tax margins of 20 percent in 2003 and 30 percent in 2006.

Nevertheless, a Schwab official said it intends to keep all of SoundView's 28 analysts, a team which covers 210 companies.

Upon completion of the SoundView deal, institutional investors will have access to equity offerings from Perseus Group, an independent investment bank which announced a strategic alliance with Schwab. "For growth-oriented institutional investors, access to high-quality new issues is an important service that we intend to deliver in a new way, without traditional investment banking conflicts," said Lon Gorman, Schwab vice chairman. The combined unit will be called Schwab SoundView Capital Markets.