TORONTO - The Bank of Montreal said Thursday that it has an agreement to buy Freeman Welwood, a Seattle direct brokerage firm, for $92.5 million.

The purchase, which is subject to regulatory approval, would more than double the Canadian bank's wealth management business in the United States.

Freeman Welwood was established in 1972 and has 90,000 accounts and $5 billion of assets under administration. It has 11 offices, including branches in San Francisco; Denver; Phoenix; Portland, Ore.; Salt Lake City; Honolulu; and Tacoma, Bellevue, and Spokane, Wash.

Freeman Welwood started online trading in 1997, and 60% of 'its business now comes on the Internet. The Seattle brokerage firm will be integrated into the bank's U.S. unit in Chicago, Harris InvestorLine direct brokerage, which has 70,000 accounts and $4 billion of assets under administration.

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