TD Waterhouse buys Skipton's Dealwise for £82m

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The Independent Online

TD Waterhouse, the world's second-biggest discount broker, bought the phone-based share dealing service Dealwise yesterday to become the largest retail share-broker in Britain.

The New York-based broker, a unit of Canada's Toronto-Dominion Bank, said it had agreed to buy the British share-dealing service for £82.1m in cash, and it would now look for acquisitions or joint ventures to expand into continental Europe.

The group said the acquisition of Dealwise from the mutually owned Skipton Building Society would make it the UK's biggest discount stock broker in terms of trade volume and total number of accounts, with a 10 per cent market share.

TD Waterhouse also bought the share-dealing service Yorkshare from Yorkshire Building Society last November.

Stephen McDonald, chief executive officer, said the Dealwise acquisition, which is subject to regulatory approval, had given it sufficient critical mass in Britain "to pursue the continent." Any other UK acquisitions would be on an "opportunistic" basis, rather than for strategic reasons, he added.

TD Waterhouse has operations in the United States, Canada, Australia, Britain and Hong Kong, as well as joint ventures in Japan and India. The group said last month total trades rose 124 per cent to 246,400 per day in the first quarter of 2000 from the same quarter a year earlier.

Mr McDonald said the company was looking into pursuing the markets of Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Scandinavia. He added that yesterday's merger between the London Stock Exchange and Deutsche Börse would help TD Waterhouse's business. "It ... will provide greater access and more liquidity," he said.

Skipton said in a statement it had received good price for Dealwise, which it bought for £3.6m in 1996. "The pending sale clearly represents an outstanding return," Skipton said.

The firm has been fighting moves by carpetbaggers to demutualise and distribute windfall shares to members.