Two Canadian banking companies on Wednesday announced agreements to buy discount brokerages.

Bank of Montreal said it is buying Burke, Christensen & Lewis Securities Inc. of Chicago for $45 million in cash. Burke Christensen would be combined with Harris Investors Direct Inc., the discount brokerage arm of Harris Bankcorp, a subsidiary of Bank of Montreal. The new unit, Harris/BCL-Investors Direct, would have $2.9 billion of assets under administration. The transaction is expected to close by yearend, pending regulatory approvals.

Meanwhile, TD Waterhouse Group, the New York-based securities arm of Toronto-Dominion Bank, said it agreed to acquire YorkShare of Bradford, England, for $15.67 million.

A subsidiary of the Yorkshire Building Society, YorkShare has more than 120,000 customers. With the acquisition, TD Waterhouse would double its business in the United Kingdom.

The acquisition announcement comes exactly one year after Toronto Dominion bought Gall & Eke, another British stockbroker based in Manchester, England. The YorkShare deal requires British regulatory approval.

-- Cheryl Winokur and Niamh Ring

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