Despite the bitter competition between them, Sovereign Bancorp and FleetBoston Financial Corp. are starting a joint Internet-only financial services company (as if there weren't already enough of them).

The venture, to be known as PhatGroup.com., plans to sign up a wide range of partners who will provide services as diverse as merchandise shopping and travel services.

Sovereign will provide CDs and checking and savings accounts, and Fleet's investment banking arm, Quick & Reilly, will offer brokerage services. Personal lines of insurance will be provided by Amica, which has 1 million customers, and onepipeline.com will offer mortgages. Paytrust.com will provide bill payment and presentment services.

David Nunheimer, Phat's chief operating officer, says that Phat Group Inc., the parent company, had raised about $7 million by mid-September and plans to raise an additional $2-3 million. Phat expects to get most of its business from referrals by its partners.

Sovereign became a competitor of FleetBoston this year when it bought hundreds of New England branches spun off as a result of the merger between Fleet Financial Corp. and Bank of Boston Corp.


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