Investment bank Morgan Stanley announced it would buy the online brokerage E-Trade for roughly $13 billion, one of the biggest deals on Wall Street since the financial crisis. The deal also is the latest chapter in Morgan Stanley's transformation from a scrappy, deal-doing, stock-trading investment bank to a more well-rounded financial firm now more reliant on its asset and wealth management businesses. According to the terms of the all-stock deal, E-Trade shareholders will receive 1.0432 Morgan Stanley shares for each share they own. E-Trade CEO Mike Pizzi will continue to run the firm once it becomes a division within Morgan Stanley, per the AP. Morgan Stanley will acquire E-Trade's 5.2 million customer accounts with $360 billion in assets as part of the merger.
Under CEO James Gorman, Morgan Stanley has shifted into new, more universal financial services that can bring in steady revenue when the more traditional parts of the bank's business—trading and advising clients—slow down or suffer in difficult markets. The strategy has worked: Morgan Stanley's income has been less volatile, and the bank has been consistently hitting its profitability goals; the bank had record profits last year. "E-Trade represents an extraordinary growth opportunity for our wealth management business and a leap forward in our wealth management strategy," Gorman said in a prepared statement Shares of Morgan Stanley fell 3.7% before the market open, while E-Trade's stock surged 24.1%. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year, if regulators and shareholders approve it. (Read more Morgan Stanley stories.)