Nymex Holdings Inc., parent company of the New York Mercantile Exchange Inc. (Nymex), said this week that it has completed and signed definitive agreements with Optionable Inc. -- a provider of natural gas and other energy derivatives brokerage services -- and its founding stockholders, to acquire 19% of Optionable.

In addition to the 19% stake, Optionable has issued a warrant that would permit Nymex to increase its stake in the company to 40%. The warrant is exercisable for 18 months at an exercise price of $4.30/share. The agreements, which were first announced in lat January (see Daily GPI, Jan. 23), also provide for certain marketing and technology initiatives between the companies.

"The closing of this agreement marks an important milestone for Nymex," said Nymex Chairman Richard Schaeffer. "We are looking forward to working with Optionable as a key contributor to our future expansion in the options markets."

Nymex is entitled to nominate one director to the Optionable board, which has increased in size to five directors from four, and elected Benjamin Chesir, Nymex vice president of new product development, as a director.

Optionable CEO Kevin Cassidy said, "The completion of this transaction is a major strategic step for Optionable, allying us closely with the world's largest exchange for the trading of energy futures and options contracts. I am convinced that our close relationship with Nymex will be an important catalyst in helping drive and accelerate our future growth."

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 called OPEX. OPEX is a real-time electronic trade matching and brokerage system designed to improve liquidity and transparency in the energy derivatives market.

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