US investment bank Morgan Stanley is reportedly seeking a controlling stake in Citigroup’s retail broking division, Citi Smith Barney.
The Wall Street Journal reported mid-January that Morgan Stanley was prepared to pay US$3bn ($4.2bn) for a 51 per cent stake in the business.
Citi Smith Barney’s Australian network is the largest outside of the US, with around 200 advisÃ‚Â¬ers, including financial planners, and six offices across the country.
It is not the first time the wealth management group’s Australian operations have been eyeballed by a competitor; last year National Australia Bank made an unsuccessful bid for the business.
Morgan Stanley does not currently have a retail broking presence in Australia, but launched its first retail offering – a managed equities fund – in Australia recently.
A spokesperson told Professional Planner: “We don’t comment on rumour and speculation, which is all it is at this stage.”