Morgan Stanley to buy E*Trade Financial in $13 billion deal

(Reuters) – Morgan Stanley (MS.N) said on Thursday it would buy discount brokerage E*Trade Financial Corp (ETFC.O) in an all-stock deal worth about $13 billion, the biggest deal by a Wall Street bank since the financial crisis.

The deal will help Morgan Stanley boost its wealth management unit, a business that Chief Executive Officer James Gorman has been trying to build out to insulate the bank from weak periods for trading and investment banking.

Morgan Stanley will get E*Trade’s more than 5.2 million client accounts and $360 billion of retail client assets as part of the deal. The brokerage’s CEO, Mike Pizzi, will continue to run the business following the merger.

“E*Trade represents an extraordinary growth opportunity for our Wealth Management business and a leap forward in our Wealth Management strategy,” Gorman said.

E*Trade became popular nearly two decades ago by running commercials that blasted financial advisers for high fees.

Its revenue growth has taken a hit in recent years from the emergence of digital upstarts called roboadvisers, falling commissions and lower interest rates.

E*Trade shareholders will receive 1.0432 Morgan Stanley shares for each share as part of the deal. That translates to $58.74 per share – a premium of 30.7% to the last closing price of E*Trade shares.

Shares of E*Trade Financial were up 24.6% at $56 in the premarket trade.

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2020.

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