TheStreet.com Unit Gets Regulatory OK to Run Broker-Dealer

IRG will provide proprietary research for institutional clients.
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TheStreet.com (TSCM) has won regulatory approval to operate its new independent-research subsidiary as a registered broker-dealer, creating a significant new channel of revenue for the Internet publishing company, officials said Tuesday.

Independent Research Group LLC

(IRG), a wholly owned subsidiary of TheStreet.com, received notice late Tuesday from the

National Association of Securities Dealers

that its application to become a member has been granted. IRG will provide proprietary research for institutional clients, but will not serve retail investors nor provide investment-banking services.

Responding to demand for stock research that isn't colored by the investment-banking and proprietary-trading activities performed by many Wall Street institutions, IRG was established in October 2002. The unit plans to provide research reports focused on smaller-capitalization stocks that receive little coverage from the larger Wall Street firms. The unit also will market two professional investment products from TheStreet.com,

StreetView

and

Street Insight

, to its institutional clients.

Tuesday's development is significant because institutions that previously purchased research or other products from TheStreet.com generally had to pay in cash. Now they will have the alternative of sending trading business through the company's new brokerage unit. Large clients generally prefer such an arrangement over direct cash payments.

"This is important, especially in light of the difficult market conditions," said Thomas J. Clarke Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of TheStreet.com. "The ability to pay for products in a manner that is consistent with the way that institutional investors normally do business is magnified in difficult economic times. If a current or prospective hedge fund client is struggling with performance, the option of paying for a proprietary product with trading commissions is more consistent with their business model than paying in cash."

TheStreet.com is set to report quarterly results Thursday.