Online broker E*Trade has increased its takeover offer for rival discount broker Ameritrade in a bid to derail Ameritrade's separate merger talks with Canada's TD Waterhouse, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
According to the report - which cites people familiar with the matter - E&Trade sent a new offer to Ameritrade on Thursday offering a 49.5% stake in the combined company and $2bn in cash.
Last month, Omaha-based Ameritrade rejected E*Trade's offer of 47.5% of the combined company plus $1.5bn in cash.
WSJ says E*Trade has agreed not to release details of its new offer until Ameritrade's board had responded.
Ameritrade is currently in merger talks with TD Waterhouse, a division of Canada's Toronto Dominion Bank. According to the WSJ report the deal - which could be announced within the next week or so - may be worth up to $3bn. WSJ says one proposal is an all-stock deal under which Ameritrade shareholders would end up with around 67% of the new company and TD Bank holders would get the rest. Under the second structure, Ameritrade shareholders would get a special dividend but less of the combined company.
E*Trade abandoned sale talks with TD Waterhouse in January last year after the two companies failed to agree terms over control of the combined firm.