Wall Street giant Morgan Stanley reportedly has cleared an important hurdle in its $13 billion acquisition of discount brokerage E*Trade Financial.
The Justice Department’s antitrust division has given the deal a green light without requiring any changes, Bloomberg reports, citing an anonymous source familiar with the situation. A Morgan Stanley spokesperson declined to comment to the news outlet.
Announced last month, the acquisition reflects Morgan Stanley’s desire to be able to serve wealth management and brokerage clients at all levels.
E*Trade’s online trading platform is popular with DIY investors and traders, and Morgan Stanley will be able to pitch them its full-service wealth management offerings as their needs grow more complex. E*Trade also helps corporate clients manage stock plans for their employees, and Morgan Stanley plans to use that business to bolster its already significant stock-plan offerings. Morgan Stanley has made it clear that it wants to refer participants in those plans to its financial advisors.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department continues to investigate Charles Schwab’s planned purchase of rival TD Ameritrade, Bloomberg notes. One potential antitrust concern is the dominance a combined Schwab/TD Ameritrade would have in the RIA custody market. A merged firm would custody about 51% of RIA assets, research firm Cerulli Associates has estimated.