Merrill Lynch, Microsoft, Salomon Smith Barney and Thomson Financial Announce i-Deal

NEW YORK, Nov. 20, 2001 — Four global corporate leaders today introduced i-Deal LLC, an independent company. i-Deal is a vertical service provider (VSP) to the securities industry, whose technology enables the entire equity and taxable debt capital-raising process to be conducted over the Internet. The i-Deal SM system serves broker-dealers, issuers and investors by streamlining and standardizing the manual process of attracting capital and issuing securities. i-Deal’s technology supports multi-dealer, multi-product, multi-tranche and multi-currency securities offerings globally.

i-Deal’s four founding firms Merrill Lynch (NYSE:MER), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Salomon Smith Barney (a unit of Citigroup, NYSE:C), and Thomson Financial (an operating unit of The Thomson Corporation, TSE:TOC), have board seats at the company. Merrill Lynch and Salomon Smith Barney are rolling out the i-Deal system for their clients’ capital-raising activities. Thomson Financial’s ongoing relationship with i-Deal will include providing their rich capital markets information over i-Deal’s platform. i-Deal will be licensed to broker-dealers. It will become broadly available in the first half of 2002. Through i-Deal’s acquisition of Thomson Financial’s Dalcomp unit, i-Deal gains a leadership position in software used to issue municipal securities.

“Our relationships with Merrill Lynch and Salomon Smith Barney provide i-Deal with a strong market position and healthy, recurring revenue base. Combined with Dalcomp, which brings i-Deal contractual relationships with virtually all the large investment firms in the U.S. and many of the largest global firms, our market penetration is already substantial,”
explained Scott Ganeles, i-Deal’s CEO.

The Convergence of Investment Banking and Advanced Technology

Deals are increasingly becoming global, larger in size and jointly led, creating a clear need for powerful technology such as i-Deal.

i-Deal’s Internet-based platform for processing new issue offerings makes it easy for capital markets professionals to manage the entire lifecycle of a deal. It enables participants to view transactions, monitor the calendar of financing activities, conduct online road shows, review prospectuses, access all deal-related content, enter indications of interest, receive allocations and conduct processing in all currencies through settlement. i-Deal’s instant consolidation of this information from multiple sources, using a single platform available to all broker-dealers, investment banks, issuers and investors, will substantially increase the efficiency and speed of securities issuance. The technological platform for i-Deal is provided by Microsoft & reg; .NET enterprise servers including Microsoft BizTalk (TM) server, which provides i-Deal with a robust infrastructure to support an array of B2B and Application Integration services.

In addition to acting as a dealer-neutral platform, i-Deal offers the ability to be integrated into a client’s existing enterprise technology. The system conducts equity transactions with straight through processing (STP). The i-Deal platform will take advantage of Microsoft’s XML Web Services offering clients the ability to tie together disparate and proprietary systems and enabling new levels of communication and efficiency previously unavailable to broker-dealers, issuers and investors worldwide.

“i-Deal is not only committed to bringing the power of the Internet to link to our diverse clients, we’re also committed to making certain that the protocol for the global exchange of information in securities issuance be open and compatible for all. For everyone in this business to be served well, we need to communicate easily with each other, regardless of what product we use,”
said Mr. Ganeles.
“With i-Deal, capital markets professionals can focus their time and energy on the parts of a deal that create the most value for their clients.”

Dalcomp Joins i-Deal

The acquisition of Dalcomp establishes i-Deal as the leading provider of issuance processing technology and services to the public finance debt market. New York-based Dalcomp’s 200 clients are the largest broker-dealers in the U.S. Allen Williams, who ran Dalcomp as President of Thomson Financial’s Municipal Group, will continue to head Dalcomp’s operations and was named a senior officer of i-Deal.

“We welcome the employees and clients of Dalcomp and look forward extending Dalcomp’s leadership position in public finance services,”
Mr. Ganeles said. He added that there would not be significant changes to Dalcomp’s products or services until management evaluated all possible synergies with i-Deal.

Freddie Mac Exec to Head i-Deal Issuer Advisory Board

It was also announced that Jerome Lienhard, Senior Vice President of Investment Funding at Freddie Mac, will chair i-Deal’s newly formed Issuer Advisory Board. Freddie Mac is one of the nation’s largest and most frequent securities issuers.

“Working with i-Deal and its world-class founders on this ground-breaking dealer- and issuer-neutral securities issuance platform is an exciting opportunity,
“said Mr. Lienhard.”
We look forward to using i-Deal’s platform and expect to strongly advocate its benefits to other potential users. We share i-Deal’s commitment to the transparency and efficiency an open system brings to the capital markets.

Additional information about i-Deal is available at www.i-deal.com .

About i-Deal’s Founders

Merrill Lynch

Merrill Lynch is one of the world’s leading financial management and advisory companies with offices in 43 countries and total client assets of about $1.5 trillion. As an investment bank, it is the top global underwriter and market maker of debt and equity securities and a leading strategic advisor to corporations, governments, institutions and individuals worldwide. Through Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, the company is one of the world’s largest managers of financial assets. For more information on Merrill Lynch, please visit www.ml.com .

Contact: Jessica Oppenheim
(212) 449-2107
joppenheim@exchange.ml.com

Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device. For more information about Microsoft, visit www.microsoft.com .

Contact: Barry Mitzman
(425) 637-8398
bmitzman@ssk.com

Salomon Smith Barney

Citigroup Corporate & Investment Bank brings together Salomon Smith Barney, a leading global investment bank and securities brokerage firm, and Citibank, the world’s most global corporate bank. Together they provide complete financial solutions to corporations, governments, institutions and individuals in more than 100 countries. Award-winning businesses include corporate and investment banking services, investment advice, financial planning and commercial insurance products. Citigroup (NYSE: C), the preeminent global financial services company with some 190 million customer accounts in more than 100 countries, provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, insurance, securities brokerage, and asset management. Additional information may be found at www.citigroup.com .

Contact: Daniel Noonan
(212) 816-4886
daniel.noonan@ssmb.com

Thomson Financial

Thomson Financial is a US$2 billion provider of information and technology solutions to the worldwide financial community. Through the widest range of products and services in the industry, Thomson Financial helps clients in more than 70 countries make better decisions, be more productive and achieve superior results. Thomson Financial is part of The Thomson Corporation (www.thomson.com), a leading global provider of integrated information solutions for business and professional customers. The Corporation reported 2000 revenues of approximately US$6 billion and its common shares are listed on the Toronto and London stock exchanges (TSE:TOC).

Contact: Allison Hagan
(646) 822-2076
allison.hagan@tfn.com

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Microsoft and BizTalk are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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