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Nymex Buys 19% Share of Brokerage Service Provider Optionable

Looking to expand its options business through acquisition, Nymex Holdings Inc., parent company of the New York Mercantile Exchange Inc., announced Monday that it will purchase a 19% stake in Optionable Inc., a provider of natural gas and other energy derivatives brokerage services, from its three founding stockholders.

In addition to the acquisition, the transaction includes certain cooperative technology initiatives and the issuance to Nymex of a warrant, which would permit it to increase its stake.

"We are excited to invest in Optionable and to work with its management to expand Nymex's position in the options space. As we reflect on the success that Nymex ClearPort has achieved and look for new areas of growth for the future, we recognize that options trading, both open outcry and electronic, will be a significant component of that future growth," said Nymex Chairman Richard Schaeffer. "OPEX technology is uniquely positioned to help us achieve our goals. We remain committed to working with the voice brokerage community, which provides significant volume and open interest to Nymex contracts, in helping them grow their business."

Headquartered in Briarcliff Manor, NY, Optionable provides its services to brokerage firms, financial institutions, energy traders and hedge funds nationwide. In addition to the traditional voice brokerage business, Optionable developed an automated derivatives trading platform. OPEX is a real-time electronic trade matching and brokerage system designed to improve liquidity and transparency in the energy derivatives market.

Optionable CEO Kevin Cassidy said, "This strategic relationship between Optionable and Nymex...will propel our growth in energy and other commodity markets. The combination of having Nymex as a stakeholder in our success and the development of joint technology programs will enhance our high standing within the energy and other commodities derivatives community.

"The transaction was structured to allow Nymex to be a stakeholder in Optionable without immediate dilution to existing shareholders, and to allow Optionable's existing management to retain a high percentage of ownership in the company," Cassidy added. "We believe that this cooperation between both companies will be extremely favorable to our business, and consequently will be well received by our existing and potential clients."

Closing of the transaction, which is expected to occur within 60 days, is subject to Nymex board of directors satisfaction with its reasonable due diligence review and completion of necessary definitive documentation.

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