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Canadian Firm Acquires MunicipalBonds.com

As expansion and competition among online investing platforms continues, an Alberta, Canada-based financial publisher with a quest to streamline the investing experience for municipal bond buyers, has officially acquired MunicipalBonds.com effective Thursday.

Mitre Media purchased the online platform that provides content, news, tools, ratings, research, and real-time pricing for and about the municipal market in an effort to expand its existing fixed-income product line, which includes Dividend.com, and ETFdb.com.

The website’s former publisher, Munigo.com – an online broker-dealer platform – will continue to be an advertiser on MunicipalBonds.com.

The price was not disclosed.

The acquisition marks Mitre Media’s first foray into a specific niche of the fixed-income market, and has a two-fold purpose – to both satisfy a strong demand for municipal product from existing users of its other fixed-income line up and to reduce the complexities of the municipal market for new and existing high net-worth investors.

“There are investors seeking yield,” Tom Hendrickson, founder and president of Mitre Media told the Bond Buyer from his Edmonton headquarters this week. “Dividend-paying stocks are a portion of their portfolio, but older and more sophisticated investors want and need municipals, so this makes sense and was a peripheral decision.”

In addition, Hendrickson hopes to make the municipal market easier for online investors to understand and navigate.

“Our general thought was that the municipal market is complex and somewhat difficult to understand with its nuances, combined with constructing a bond portfolio,” he explained. “It’s conceptually difficult and practically difficult.”

He said investors will utilize the internet as a medium to educate themselves and gather the knowledge they need to buy municipal bonds on their own, or ask the right questions when meeting with a financial advisor.

“Over the last 10 years with the advent of a lot of tools and online investing revolving around stocks, that has given retail investors some insight, but there is still a layer of the fixed-income market - particularly the municipal market - where we can do a better job and utilize the internet as a medium to break down difficult concepts,” Hendrickson said.

The firm hopes to take advantage of Internet traffic searching for municipal bonds on engines, such as Google.

Planned enhancements to MunicipalBonds.com will include new visual aids, expanded content, and an improved suite of tools, among other upgrades that will be facilitated via Mitre Media’s infrastructure and existing technology platform, Hendrickson noted.

“We will offer a simple, clear, and transparent way of viewing this market – from the first concept of owning municipal bonds, through the decision-making, constructing and building a portfolio, long-term strategies, and ownership,” he continued.

Besides expanding its current usage by investors, Hendrickson said the website is currently used by independent financial advisors, as well as those in some large Wall Street wire houses that view it as a complement to their own firms’ proprietary platforms – and he hopes to grow that audience as well.

In addition, the website serves as a medium to connect issuers, broker-dealers, and public finance professionals with high net worth and retail investors looking for municipal bonds in states across the country, according to Hendrickson.

“At the end of the day our users are interested in growing their wealth and growing wealth for their families,” he explained. “They want yield and they have investable assets, and part of their portfolio income comes from products, like equities, but they need other asset classes,” Hendrickson said. “Municipal bonds were of interest to our investors already, so this was a high priority and serves a goal for them.

“With Municipalbonds.com we saw a leader in a valuable niche with a very valuable demographic,” Hendrickson said in the press release. “We are able to apply our expertise at scale to deliver the best in financial information to the investing public.”

Hendrickson said the latest acquisition is part of an overall growth strategy, and also includes the acquisition of Bondfunds.com

The firm plans on acquiring or launching sites in up to 20 additional financial categories through 2013, and has raised over $8.5 million from investors including iNovia Capital, a leading venture capital firm, according to the release.

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