The importance of direct access to European markets by remote membership is highlighted by the recent initiative of the US global custodian, Citibank.

It has become the first bank to clear securities traded by remote members of the Milan Stock Exchange, having helped those members -Morgan Stanley and Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) - to engineer a support system for the clearance and settlement of securities transactions from London.

This is a 'first' for Morgan Stanley and UBS as well, both of whom are the first foreign remote members of the exchange.

According to Giulio Di Cerbo, head of global clearing sales and account management at Citibank, the bank has worked very closely with the local authorities and our clients to help design this new structure so that it works effectively for all parties. As stock exchanges across Europe become more open, it is important for the major securities clearing banks like Citibank to assist brokers in leveraging this new environment."

UBS's head of equities, Hector Sants, says that UBS "is pleased to add the Milan Stock Exchange to its portfolio of remote memberships in Europe, which includes Am-sterdam, Frankfurt and Stockholm.

"We use local settlement agents to allow us to trade and settle as effectively as local members and we are pleased to work with Citi-bank for our Italian business."

Bob Crew"