HFC Bank plc

25 Oct 1999

HFC BANK LAUNCHES A MAJOR NEW FINANCIAL SERVICES BRAND

HFC BANK LAUNCHES marbles, A MAJOR NEW FINANCIAL SERVICES BRAND

Simmons & Simmons advised HFC Bank plc ("HFC"), the UK's leading co-branded credit card issuer and a subsidiary of Household International, Inc., in connection with its launch of the new financial services brand marbles. The new brand was launched on 15 October by HFC. The marbles card is a credit card which is designed for both online and conventional use. The card is also linked to Freeserve plc ("Freeserve"), the UK's leading Internet services provider and a subsidiary of Dixons Group plc.

Simmons & Simmons acted for HFC in connection with its joint initiative with Freeserve earlier this year. The firm also advised HFC on various related intellectual property matters at the time of the transaction and subsequently, including brand protection through trade mark applications and domain name registrations.

The marbles card carries a competitive interest rate and gives holders various benefits, including the ability to access their account details and pay their bills online. Applications can be made either over the Internet with a 60-second decision time or for those that prefer the traditional methods, by mail or phone. Accounts can be securely managed over the Internet, and customers will also have the comfort of receiving monthly statements through the mail, as well as access to a 24-hour telephone customer service.

This is the latest in a number of financial services products launched by HFC on which Simmons & Simmons has advised, including the launch of the GM Card in conjunction with Vauxhall Motors, and HFC's joint venture with British Gas with the launch of the Goldfish Credit Card. Additionally, Simmons & Simmons recently advised HFC on its merger with Beneficial Bank PLC by way of a private Act of Parliament (the HFC Bank Act 1999). This follows the completion last year of the US$8.6 billion merger of Household International, Inc. and Beneficial Corporation on which Simmons & Simmons also advised on English and various European law issues.

The Simmons & Simmons team for the transaction with Freeserve was led by partner Charles Fuller (Corporate) and assisted by Chris Turner (Corporate), partner Nick Cronkshaw and Lisa Cristie (Tax), Mark Robinson (Intellectual Property), Lawrence Haines (Information Technology) and Zoe Fountain (Commercial), as well as by HFC's in-house lawyer Andrew Rodie and tax manager Stephen Young. The Simmons & Simmons team for the Intellectual Property - brand protection work was Helen Newman, Adrian Smith and Jenny Mason.

Charles Fuller commented:

"We are thrilled with the successful launch of marbles and to have once again worked with HFC in bringing another innovative product to the UK market place."

Freeserve were advised by Olswang.

ENDS

Notes for editors:

1. Simmons & Simmons is worldclass law firm with offices in London, Paris, Brussels, Düsseldorf, Lisbon, Milan, Rome, Madrid, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Shanghai and New York with over 1,400 staff worldwide. For further information on Simmons & Simmons please visit our website at www.simmons-simmons.com.

2. The Corporate Department at Simmons & Simmons comprises over 220 legal staff (115 in London), including 47 partners (27 in London). It advises on the whole range of corporate finance activity, and mergers and acquisitions as well as other corporate law matters for listed and unlisted companies, in the United Kingdom and overseas.

3. The Intellectual Property Group at Simmons & Simmons is recognised as one of the leading practices in the UK both by Legal 500 and Chambers Directory. It has extensive experience of both contentious and non-contentious matters across the entire spectrum, including trade marks and passing off, know-how and confidential information, copyright, designs and patents. Acting for clients from all industrial sectors worldwide, including electronics and computers, software, media and entertainment, manufacturing, food and drink, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, chemicals and medical devices, the Group provides advice on the planning and co-ordination of patent and trade mark protection strategies, as well as advice in relation to design rights. The practice also covers technology transfers and the licensing and protection of know-how as well as advice on competition law.