TD Ameritrade said Monday it had agreed to acquire rival Scottrade Financial Services for $4 billion in another deal that reflects the difficult environment for discount brokerages.
The combined company will have more than 10 million client accounts and nearly $1 trillion in assets, with TD Ameritrade betting the larger scale will enable it to offer a more competitive service to retail investors, who have been shying away from equities amid market volatility.
“TD Ameritrade getting Scottrade’s assets increases its scale and puts them in a much better place to deal with any type of pricing competition,” Michael Wong, an analyst with researcher Morningstar, told The Wall Street Journal.
The merger will occur in two stages. Toronto-Dominion Bank, which owns a large stake in TD Ameritrade, will initially purchase Scottrade’s banking business for $1.3 billion in cash. Immediately following that acquisition, TD Ameritrade will acquire privately-held Scottrade for $4 billion, or $2.7 billion after the proceeds from the sale of Scottrade Bank, in a cash and stock deal.
“This combination will allow us to leverage our strengths and increase our scale, further accelerate our asset gathering capabilities and introduce our award-winning line-up of trading tools, products and education services to millions of new investors,” TD Ameritrade CEO Tim Hockey said in a news release.
As the WSJ reports, the once high-flying discount brokerage industry “has been under pressure from declining trading volumes and low revenue growth as more investors ditch buying individual stocks to buy and hold low-cost passive funds that track the market rather than beat it.”
Firms are also coping with pricing competition from full-service brokerages and other online competitors, including automated robo advisers. TD Ameritrade said Monday that its average client trades per day declined 7% in the three months through September.
“The weak environment is driving a broad industry consolidation,” The New York Times noted, with Ally Financial acquiring TradeKing Group for about $275 million in April and E*Trade Financial buying the parent company of OptionsHouse for $725 million in July.
In trading Monday, TD Ameritrade shares fell 3.3% to $35.84.