SINGAPORE (Reuters) - U.S. online brokerage E*Trade Financial Corp ETFC.O aims to triple its share of revenue from international operations to 30 percent by 2010, expanding partly through acquisitions in China and India.
Mathias Helleu, who heads E*Trade's international operations, said the company was seeking acquisitions in China and wanted to increase its 48-percent stake in Indian broker IL&FS Investsmart ILFI.BO, acquired last year.
“We do believe that India and China really are the two biggest pillars of our international expansion,” he told Reuters in an interview in Singapore on Wednesday.
“The U.S. market is pretty mature now in terms of new accounts. So if you want to continue to grow you will have to go outside of the U.S. in markets where the growth is still strong.”
Helleu said business in Japan, Australia and South Korea would continue to be managed by affiliates. Similar arrangements across the world provide E*Trade customers access to a total of 42 markets.
He said consolidation in the U.S. could also provide “tremendous opportunity” and value if there is alignment in strategy and product.
E*Trade and local peer TD Ameritrade Holding Corp AMTD.O have been in serious merger discussions for weeks but not yet close to a deal that could shake up the online financial services industry by creating a dominant player, the Wall Street Journal's Web site said earlier on Wednesday.
A merger between the two could eclipse Charles Schwab Corp SCHW.O, currently the largest online brokerage, but Helleu said the company does not comment on specific rumors.
“In terms of acquisition we are very pragmatic. If the price makes sense, if there are synergies, and if the acquisition is bringing something to the table we will definitely look at it.”
The company on Wednesday launched operations in Singapore, making it the 16th E*TRADE branded website to launch outside of the U.S., allowing local investors direct access to U.S. stock markets through its retail trading platform.
“Here in Singapore it’s an ideal scenario. First about 77 percent of the population uses the Internet which is probably one of the highest in the world. Then there is a long and old investing culture, and it is also a well regulated market. For us this combination is very powerful,” Helleu said.
He said the company also plans to put Singapore on its global trading platform that was launched earlier this year giving U.S. retail customers electronic access to stocks markets in France, UK, Germany, Canada, Hong Kong and Japan.
The company, which has about 4.5 million customers worldwide, also offers expanded banking services like cash management, mortgages and home equity loans and hopes to win a banking license in the United Kingdom this year.
Shares in E*Trade fell as much as 28 percent last Thursday, amid concerns about its exposure to mortgage assets that drove much of its growth in recent years, but closed up 6.35 percent to $15.57 on Nasdaq on Tuesday after assurances to investors about the credit quality of its mortgage holdings.
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.