Prudential, Other Firms Putting IPOs Online

In mid-August, Prudential Securities became the second major retail firm to let some of its clients view a list of the firm's upcoming IPOs on the Web, complete with downloadable prospectuses. The firm also provides an e-mail link on the IPO page through which a client can contact a financial adviser for more information.Listed in the Prudential site are deals in which Prudential is either a manager

In mid-August, Prudential Securities became the second major retail firm to let some of its clients view a list of the firm's upcoming IPOs on the Web, complete with downloadable prospectuses. The firm also provides an e-mail link on the IPO page through which a client can contact a financial adviser for more information.

Listed in the Prudential site are deals in which Prudential is either a manager or co-manager, including bonds and mutual funds along with equities and preferreds.

At the moment, Prudential's Web-based IPO service is limited to clients who've signed up for the firm's new Prudential Advisor account. Other clients won't be able to get IPO information online until late winter, says Vincent Pica II, president of the firm's capital finance group.

At press time in early October, the firm was close to allowing its Advisor account clients to enter indications of interest online.

The firm has listed about a dozen issues so far, Pica says. Has the exposure helped sell the deals? "It's hard to give a definitive answer," Pica says. Issuers definitely want to see their offerings promoted online, he says. And Prudential had to accelerate its upgrade of the Web site since the demand for the listing was greater than expected. The site was designed and implemented during the first two weeks of August.

For the year ending Aug. 31, Prudential lead-managed nine and co-managed 35 domestic public common stock offerings.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter has been offering online clients downloads of prospectuses for upcoming IPOs since 1998.

Meanwhile, on Dec. 1, when Merrill launches its Merrill Lynch Direct discount operation as well as a new version of its client online service, Merrill Lynch Online, the firm is going to institute an online "IPO lottery," a spokesperson says. The firm wouldn't release further details.

Steve Clifford, Salomon Smith Barney's senior vice president and director of interactive marketing and services, says SSB's plans are still preliminary but it does plan to list IPOs online next year.

A PaineWebber spokesperson says the firm is considering putting IPO information online as well.

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