BRUSSELS - Generale Bank said it invested about $17 million in a new trading room and is adding traders.

The bank said in a statement that the 152-workstation room, which can be extended to 180 stations, groups the bank's foreign exchange, derivatives, stock exchange, and money and capital markets business "under the same roof."

It said each dealer's position can now be monitored permanently and automatically.

"Among other things we will be increasing our activities in share and bond markets. The sales teams are being reinforced," the statement said. The bank was still looking for 10 traders after recruiting a number of specialists, it said.

The bank's managing director, Andre Bergen, said at a news conference that the bank plans to expand its equity markets business but will remain cautious in its derivatives activities.

The trading room has 15 people dealing in shares and in share market derivatives. Eight others deal in bond, money market, and currency derivatives.

Generale Bank is also a market maker in the Belgian futures and options exchange's Belgian government bond future.

Trading government securities is a major feature of the room. Generale Bank said it is Belgium's leading primary dealer in Belgian government bonds and Treasury bills.

Asked how the bank performed in the bond market slump this year, Mr. Bergen replied: "It fared well."

The bank's profitability for the trading room was a return on equity of 25% to 30%, compared to 14% for the bank, Bergen said.

The trading room has a Teknekron platform, with personal computers using Microsoft Windows NT applications.

The trading room is equipped with Reuters PLC Dealing 2000 and Quotron FX/Trader systems for interbank market trading and with Belfox and CATS systems for trading on the Brussels stock exchange's organized securities and derivatives markets.

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