E*TRADE, the digital brokerage behind the stock trading baby commercials in the early 2000s (remember those?) has agreed to be acquired by investment banking giant Morgan Stanley. The all-stock transaction is valued at $13 billion.
The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.
Since it was founded in 1982, E*TRADE has built up 5.2 million client accounts and $3.6 billion in assets under management. This will bolster Morgan Stanley’s 3 million client relationships and $2.7 trillion in assets under management. Adding E*TRADE’s digital capabilities to Morgan Stanley’s more traditional offerings will grant Morgan Stanley a more well-rounded approach that ranges from high tech to high touch.
“E*TRADE represents an extraordinary growth opportunity for our Wealth Management business and a leap forward in our Wealth Management strategy. The combination adds an iconic brand in the direct-to-consumer channel to our leading advisor-driven model, while also creating a premier Workplace Wealth provider for corporations and their employees,” said Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman. “In addition, this continues the decade-long transition of our firm to a more balance sheet light business mix, emphasizing more durable sources of revenue.”
Logistically, E*TRADE CEO Mike Pizzi will lead Morgan Stanley’s E*TRADE business and be charged with overseeing the integration. “By joining Morgan Stanley, we will be able to take our combined offering to the next level and deliver an even more comprehensive suite of wealth management capabilities,” said Pizzi. “Bringing E*TRADE’s brand and offerings under the Morgan Stanley umbrella creates a truly exciting wealth management value proposition and enables our collective team to serve a far wider spectrum of clients.”
Today’s deal comes at a time when brokerages across the U.S. are in a race to zero, lowering trading fees as much as possible to compete with consumer attention. Last year Charles Schwab eliminated fees for stock trades and a month later bought TD Ameritrade for $26 billion.