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 advis¬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.”

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