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ASX and Perpetual Trustees Form Joint Venture

Date 20/03/2000

Australian Stock Exchange Limited (ASX) and Perpetual Trustees Australia Limited (Perpetual) have formed a joint venture, incorporating the operations of Perpetual's share registry division, Perpetual Registrars.

Each party will have a half interest in the entity, to be known as ASX Perpetual Registrars Limited (APRL). The entity will be ungeared initially and ASX will invest $50 million to subscribe for their interest in the venture.

APRL will aim to be the leading provider of registry and related services, initially for listed securities in the Australian market. In addition to incorporating and building on the traditional business of Perpetual Registrars, APRL will seek to grow that business and extend its services to existing and new markets including international markets.

A priority for APRL will be to develop a next generation processing system to better serve listed entities, intermediaries and investors in the increasingly demanding world of ecommerce, broadening share ownership and growing investment complexity. The joint venture will increase competition in the registry market by providing further service improvements and more cost effective services to issuers and shareholders.

Commenting on the announcement, Mr Graham Bradley, Managing Director of Perpetual Trustees Australia, said: "We are delighted to enter into the joint venture with ASX. The combination of our expertise in the sector and ASX's financial systems and technology skills will provide APRL with a strong platform from which to pursue growth opportunities."

Mr Richard Humphry, Managing Director of ASX, added: "Our research has shown the rapid growth in the number of retail investors has produced increased demand for improved customer services and the need for rapid technological advances.

"We believe there is an excellent opportunity for us to develop a business which merges Perpetual's ability to offer high quality registry services to issuers with ASX's skills in delivering leading-edge financial services technology.

"The joint venture with Perpetual is in line with our strategy of adding complementary products and services for our customers across the investment spectrum. It will also diversify our revenue streams and fit well with Perpetual's plans to expand its registry operations," he said.

Mr Bradley said "The joint venture would combine two widely recognised and respected Australian company names and brands. In ASX we have a strong partner to help us exploit new service opportunities and to make the most of our skills and market position.

"Since acquiring the registry business, Perpetual has already invested heavily in systems and processing capabilities.

"We are now using the most advanced processing methods available for IPO's, and have proved our ability to handle very large volumes of applications and inquiries from potential investors in public offerings.

"However, we also recognise that considerable continuing investment is needed to provide the additional resources required if we are to take our expertise into new markets and to capitalise fully on the many development opportunities now available.

"By joining with the ASX we will create a substantial knowledge and technical base. This will give APRL the ability to fast track initiatives in ecommerce, improvements in customer services, new internet based information services, and the investigation of international markets," Mr Bradley said.

APRL will have a six member board, comprising three representatives from each company. Both Graham Bradley and Richard Humphry will be members of the board. The Chairmanship will rotate between ASX and Perpetual each 12 months. Mr Bradley will be appointed Chairman for the first period.

Richard Atkinson, current Group Executive of Perpetual Registrars Limited, will become the chief executive of APRL.

Perpetual Registrars is already a world class provider of share registry services-the Telstra 2 share placement (processed by Perpetual Registrars) was one of the largest public offerings anywhere in the world last year.

In the past year, Perpetual Registrars secured a number of new clients, including Cabcharge, Coca-Cola Amatil, Burns Philp, Hutchison Telecommunications, Lend Lease's US Office Trust, Melbourne IT, Stadium Australia and Technology One.

The joint venture will commence from 1 May 2000, subject to completion of due diligence and any necessary regulatory approvals.