Merrill BATS Around

It takes a minority stake.
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Merrill Lynch

(MER)

has acquired a minority interest in electronic communication network BATS Trading.

Merrill joins several other brokerages that have invested in BATS, including

Credit Suisse

(CS) - Get Report

,

Lehman

(LEH)

and

Morgan Stanley

(MS) - Get Report

.

Alternative trading platforms, such as ECNs, not only take trading volume from bigger exchanges such as the

New York Stock Exchange

(NYX)

and the

Nasdaq Stock Market

I:IXIC

. They also provide a place where the brokerage firms can trade large blocks of shares at cheaper prices.

The Kansas City, Mo., ECN was created in 2005 by founder Dave Cummings and began trading in January 2006 after consolidation left fewer competitors to the NYSE and Nasdaq. Last month, BATS averaged trading volume of 307 million shares a day. It began trading NYSE-listed shares in February.

BATS did not disclose how much Merrill paid for its stake.