Reports in the Wall Street Post which indicate that E-Trade Financial, the pioneering online discount broker with Silicon Valley roots, is in merger talks with TD Ameritrade Holding had shares of both companies ticking upward Wednesday. A merger of the two would create a broker with roughly 11 million accounts, surpassing San Francisco-based Charles Schwab as the online leader. Currently, Schwab has about 6.9 million, Ameritrade has 6.3 million and E-trade has 4.7 million brokerage and banking accounts.
The Post, which cited "people familiar with the matter," reported today that E-Trade and Ameritrade have been in serious discussions for weeks but still aren't yet close to a deal. Although the two had been in talks before, Ameritrade is now under pressure from two hedge funds with significant investments to work out a deal, which just might prove to be enough of a catalyst to get the talks concluded. If its rivals pass an antitrust review and merge, Schwab would face competitive pressure. During a conference call with analysts in July, Schwab Chief Executive Charles Schwab dismissed speculation his firm might merge, citing its internal growth opportunities.