Freeserve has struck an agreement with GlobalNet Financial.com, First Marathon and Mesirow Financial to offer online share trading, the company announced yesterday.

The venture will deliver an online securities trading and clearing company in the UK, with potential to expand into other parts of the EU.

The move isn't a surprise to observers. "When they launched the initial public offer (IPO), they were already saying they would be launching a stock-trading service," said Petra Gartzen, an analyst with Dataquest UK. The UK is quickly jumping on the online trading bandwagon with recent announcements including E-Trade and stocktrade.co.uk, she added.

"This is certainly a useful service to have on your site," Gartzen said. "Stock trading over the Internet in the US has dramatically undermined some of the big companies' revenue streams. IPOs are very difficult to get hold of, but now there are companies who make them available to anyone."

The Freeserve site will also link to UK-Invest.com, which is Freeserve's financial content channel, owned and operated by GlobalNet. Freeserve currently owns 13 per cent of the site, with the option to increase its share to 19.9 per cent.

Freeserve will provide its user base and GlobalNet will provide the financial content and tools, with Mesirow providing the knowledge of trading and clearing, and First Marathon contributing its accounting knowledge.

Last month, Freeserve became the UK's first 100 per cent online company to make its initial public offering.