GLOBAL - Global index providers Dow Jones Indexes and FTSE Group say their new joint classification system is now available.

The so-called Industry Classification Benchmark is based around a new database, covering 40,000 companies and 45,000 securities worldwide.

“It offers investors and the securities industry the most comprehensive and seamless classification system available, and serves as a versatile tool for global sector analysis,” the two rival firms stated in a joint release.

They added that the system has been adopted by exchanges, index calculators and financial-services providers. All Dow Jones indices have been converted to ICB, while FTSE indices will be converted during 2005.

The two firms have named Thomson Financial’s James Cemprola as managing director of the new business.

"ICB is an exciting project, and we have already seen a great deal of interest from financial and data vendors, exchanges and investment houses in adopting the product," Cemprola said. "I'm thrilled to be leading such an innovative and valuable venture."

They said the ICB’s design allows investors to monitor broad industry trends and “zero in” on small-market niches. It would also facilitate “detailed qualitative and quantitative analysis within a single system”.