TD Ameritrade, E-Trade hold merger talks

Business Law

Online brokerage giants TD Ameritrade Holding (AMTD) and E-Trade Financial (ETFC) have been holding talks for weeks about a possible merger, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
The discussions currently are focused on making sure both companies agree on strategy, and the companies aren't yet close to a deal, the Journal reported, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.

A spokeswoman for E-Trade said the firm's management team believes there is "tremendous value in consolidation that aligns business strategy and operational synergies and will do what is in the best interest of its customers." A spokeswoman for Omaha-based Ameritrade said the company has talked to and continues to talk to industry peers.

The companies previously have discussed an alliance but never reached a deal. This time, however, there is the added pressure of two hedge funds with big stakes in Ameritrade that have publicly urged the two companies to talk.

Jana Partners and S.A.C. Capital Advisors, which claim to collectively own 8.4% of Ameritrade shares, have been urging Ameritrade to join forces with a major competitor such as E-Trade or Charles Schwab (SCHW) in the interests of the majority of shareholders.

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