Wall Street investment bank Morgan Stanley is acquiring online financial services company E*Trade for a whopping $13 billion, the companies announced Thursday.
E*Trade "represents an extraordinary growth opportunity for our Wealth Management business and a leap forward in our Wealth Management strategy," Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman said in a statement.
The all-stock takeover is the largest takeover by a U.S. bank since the financial crisis of 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported.
E*Trade is an app and online brokerage platform that lets users trade stocks and more. It also provides a handful of other online banking services including employee stock ownership plans. It currently boasts more than 5.2 million client accounts and $360 billion of retail client assets.
"Since we created the digital brokerage category nearly 40 years ago, E*TRADE has consistently disrupted the status quo and delivered cutting-edge tools and services to investors, traders, and stock plan administrators," Mike Pizzi, the company's CEO, said Thursday. "By joining Morgan Stanley, we will be able to take our combined offering to the next level and deliver an even more comprehensive suite of wealth management capabilities."
Experts say the acquisition shows the big bank's push towards managing the money of not just the ultra-wealthy, but also the masses.
"Wall Street banks continue to covet Main Street customers," Greg McBride, the chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com, said in a statement. "Morgan Stanley’s acquisition of E*Trade gives them access to brokerage customers, employees with company stock, and the lifeblood of financial services -- low cost retail bank deposits."
Other big banks are similarly turning their sights to the digital banking world, he said.
"As Goldman Sachs has grown their online bank Marcus, and as Schwab has acquired TD Ameritrade, the trail was blazed for Morgan Stanley’s pathway into financial services for mass affluent and the up-and-comers that will be tomorrow’s affluent households," McBride added.
McBride noted that "the competition for consumers’ cash and investments is as fierce as ever."
"And this reaches a broad spectrum of households, it isn’t just the ultra wealthy that are in demand," he said.
Morgan Stanley's acquisition of E*Trade is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2020, subject to regulatory approvals and E*Trade shareholder approvals.