The consolidation of the online brokerage segment has taken another big step forward. On Friday, E*TRADE Financial (NASDAQ:ETFC) announced that its shareholders voted overwhelmingly to approve their company's merger with white-shoe financial services mainstay Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS).
E*TRADE said that 99% of its investors voted in favor of the deal, according to a preliminary count. The merger, which in effect is an acquisition by Morgan Stanley of its peer, was agreed to by both companies in February. It will be transacted entirely in Morgan Stanley stock and is valued at roughly $13 billion.
At the time, E*TRADE said the deal would bolster one area of its operations, in particular. "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," it wrote in the press release trumpeting the arrangement.
The Morgan Stanley/E*TRADE deal came shortly after another big-ticket transaction in the brokerage sphere. Last November, Charles Schwab signed a similar agreement to purchase TD Ameritrade. Like the subsequent Morgan Stanley acquisition, this was also done as an all-stock deal, albeit a much larger one at up to $26 billion in value.
After a withering commission price war erupted in the sector in 2019, revenue and margins for many brokerages came under strain. This was a major factor in the industry's consolidation beginning that year.
E*TRADE investors seemed to shrug off their fellow shareholders' approval of the Morgan Stanley deal, likely because it was expected by many. E*TRADE's stock essentially traded sideways on Friday.