E-Offering, an on-line investment bank affiliated with E-Trade Group, has hired Gary Craft to run its investment research department.

Mr. Craft, a chartered financial analyst with Robertson Stephens & Co.- which BankBoston Corp. bought from BankAmerica Corp. last year-will cover companies in the emerging on-line financial services marketplace, including banking, brokerage, insurance, and payments systems.

E-Offering, which is 28% owned by E-Trade, will distribute its financial analyses to users of E-Trade's service, treating retail customers as if they were large institutional investors. It will give them the opportunity to buy stocks during initial public offerings, Mr. Craft said.

"We are starting fresh," he said, pointing to the ability of the Internet to quickly and efficiently distribute information to potential investors, thus decreasing the influence that traditional firms have in picking stocks.

"The legacy players are caught in a pickle," he said.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based E-Trade is the second-largest on-line trading firm behind Charles Schwab & Co., with an 11.8% share of the market, according to Credit Suisse First Boston.

On-line trading firms accounted for one in seven of all stock trades at the end of 1998, according to Bill Burnham, an analyst at Credit Suisse.

E-Offering was founded in January by Walter Cruttenden 3d, the former president and chief executive officer of Cruttenden Roth Inc., a Newport Beach, Calif.-based brokerage firm. It also received a passive investment from Sandy Robertson, who in 1978 founded Robertson Stephens & Co.

E-Offering is planning to open a transactional Internet site in June, and hopes to attract business by charging lower corporate fees to companies intent on going public.

E-Offering would begin underwriting public offerings this year.

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