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The Options Clearing Corporation Announces Largest Ever Clearing Fee Refund

CHICAGO, March 1, 2005 - The Options Clearing Corporation (OCC) announced today that its board of directors recently approved a refund of $47,430,086 to clearing members for the year ended Dec. 31, 2004, their largest ever clearing fee refund.

OCC annually provides its clearing members with a clearing fee refund once OCC operational expenses are met. For the years ended Dec. 31, 2003, 2002 and 2001, this refund amounted to $33.1 million, $14.1 million and $26.7 million, respectively. OCC's cumulative refunds and discounts since 1974 total more than $385.8 million.

"We are proud to continually increase our annual refund, despite the obvious rise in costs associated with ongoing systems improvements and consistently increasing industry volume," said Michael Cahill, President and COO, OCC. "OCC strives to offer constant improvement at a reduced cost for our business partners."

In addition to the refund, OCC has also extended indefinitely the clearing fee reductions introduced last year. These reductions can save clearing members over 12 percent on clearing fees, depending on the size of the trade.

Reductions are based on a clearing fee schedule originally implemented in April 2004, which initially saved clearing members up to nine percent on fees. The discount was most notable for trades between one and 500 contracts, which account for approximately 75 percent of OCC's cleared trades. In July 2004, OCC announced additional reductions, bringing the total discount to more than 12 percent through year-end, now extended indefinitely. In 2004, a total of $12,262,175 in fee reductions was returned to clearing members.

"These fee reductions reflect the direction we take from our firms, exchanges and industry partners," Cahill said. "Recent spectacular industry growth, including last year's total options volume exceeding 1 billion contracts, has allowed us to implement this and many other enhancements for our business partners."

About OCC

OCC, founded in 1973, is the largest clearing organization in the world for options and was the first clearing house to receive a 'AAA' credit rating from Standard & Poor's Corporation. Operating under the jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, OCC provides clearing and settlement services for the American Stock Exchange, the Boston Options Exchange, Chicago Board Options Exchange, CBOE Futures Exchange, International Securities Exchange, OneChicago, Pacific Exchange, Philadelphia Stock Exchange and Philadelphia Board of Trade. More information about OCC is available through its Web site at www.optionsclearing.com.