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Microsoft signs up with Egg for MSN online investment funds

Will go live start of next year

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Microsoft and Egg have announced a European deal today that will see MSN's MoneyChannel offer a fund supermarket from Q1 next year.

What the hell is a fund supermarket? Basically, it's a searchable list of all the various investment funds available from a range of fund managers like ABN Amro, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JP Morgan etc etc - the big boys.

An Egg spokesman explained why we would be interested in that: "Well, most people will be interested in ISAs and we have a range of pre-packaged ISAs, like European or Technology. But for a more sophisticated investor, the fund supermarket enables you to pick and choose individual funds."

Such a supermarket already runs on Egg's site (go to Egg Invest, then fund supermarket). It offers a search facility on the name, charges, performance, sector and independent ratings. There are 266 different funds, we were told, and the advantage of buying them through Egg is that they get a bulk-buy discount. Some funds have a less than one per cent through Egg, but would cost five per cent it you bought direct, the spokesman tried to persuade us.

The MSN tie-up will be co-branded and run as a pilot this autumn in time to go live in Q1 next year. The service will be run on Egg's servers and will closely follow Egg's current setup. Egg refused to say how much the deal was worth, saying it was commercially sensitive information.

MSN's MoneyChannel is very lacklustre at the moment, containing little more than newsfeeds, certainly not any financial services. As Microsoft attempts to make MSN a lynchpin in its Internet strategy and a big part of the .NET "vision", more of these deals, dependent on someone else's experience and technical expertise, will happen.

In return, the company gets a prime spot on the MSN portal - a very nice place to be.

If you want to read some tedious comments from top execs on the deal and how this all fits in neatly with Egg's plan to expand its services internationally, check out the press release here. ®

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