Scottrade Financial Services, an online brokerage services company whose holdings include the $16 billion-asset Scottrade Bank, is working with an adviser to explore a sale, according to people familiar with the matter.
A deal could value Town & Country, Missouri-based Scottrade at about $4 billion, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter isn't public. The company has drawn interest from rivals including TD Ameritrade Holding Corp., they said.
No final decision has been made and there's no guarantee an agreement will be reached, the people said.
A representative for Omaha, Nebraska-based TD Ameritrade declined to comment. Representatives for Scottrade didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
A Sandler, O'Neill research note on Thursday said consolidation of electronic brokerages is normally "straightforward" but that the Scottrade Bank could complicate the deal because it has a net interest margin around 1.48%. The easiest course might be for Scottrade Financial's buyer to close the bank, the note said.
Scottrade and TD are two of the largest online brokers, platforms used by consumers, wealth advisers and other investors to trade securities outside of traditional brokerages.
The online brokerage industry has been dealing with lower trading volumes and sluggish revenue growth, as rivals slash fees to steal business, according to David Ritter, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence. Buying Scottrade could enable TD Ameritrade to reduce costs by eliminating redundant back-office systems, while bringing in new customers, he said.
"This is a way of acquiring the accounts, and the assets that come with it, in one fell swoop," Ritter said.
Scottrade Financial provides a broad range of retail brokerage, investment advisory, and banking services through four different subsidiaries. Its best-known business is Scottrade Inc., among the first so-called discount brokerages, with about 500 branches around the U.S.