As Ameritrade and its rival, T.D. Waterhouse, a unit of Canada's Toronto Dominion Bank, engage in talks about a possible merger, another online brokerage is looking to get a piece of the action, Dow Jones reports.

E-Trade Financial, which last month made an unsolicited bid for Omaha, Neb.-based Ameritrade is considering its options, according to people familiar with the matter. It could either sweeten its offer for Ameritrade, or it could make a separate bid for T.D. Waterhouse. The company may even make an offer for other industry players such as Charles Schwab.

"I think it is highly likely that there will be a pairing in the next month," said Kyle Cerminara, a financial services analyst at the mutual fund firm T. Rowe Price, whose firm owns 30.8 million shares, or almost 7.7% of Ameritrade. "Right now it is just a question of which pairing will work."

The online brokerage industry, which has seen commissions fall and trading activity soften, is ripe for consolidation.

"If E-Trade wants to stay in the consolidation it needs to respond pretty swiftly," said Richard Repetto, an analyst who covers the discount-brokerage industry for the  investment banking firm Sandler O'Neill & Partners.

The staff of Money Management Executive ("MME") has prepared these capsule summaries based on reports published by the news sources to which they are attributed. Those news sources are not associated with MME, and have not prepared, sponsored, endorsed, or approved these summaries.

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