By OSKAR GARCIA (AP)
TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. officials said Wednesday that the company is ready for a possible merger or acquisition as it finishes integrating TD Waterhouse's U.S. retail securities business, amid a push by two hedge funds for the company to merge with E-Trade Financial Corp. or Charles Schwab Corp.
A company spokeswoman said Ameritrade is always in talks with other companies but gave no further comment, citing securities regulations. "It is absolutely accurate to say that we have been and are talking with peers in the industry," said Ameritrade spokeswoman Katrina Becker.
Becker acknowledged that such a deal would fit in with the company's long-term strategy. "We have an organic growth strategy and an external strategy," she said. "We believe there's going to be additional consolidation in the industry."
Becker said reorganization from the January 2006 TD Waterhouse deal would be complete in September.
Shares of Ameritrade jumped Wednesday after the Omaha, Neb.-based company disclosed in a regulatory filing a letter it had received from investment funds Jana Partners and S.A.C. Capital Advisors urging the company to make a deal in the interests of the majority of shareholders.
By Wednesday afternoon the company's shares were up 97 cents or 4.9 percent at $20.92 in heavy trading, reaching a new 52-week high.