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Report: CIBC to Buy Ameritrade

Ameritrade, which ranks as the nation's fifth-largest discount brokerage firm, is reportedly in advance talks to be acquired by Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) for as much as $1.8 billion.

Ameritrade is expected to be sold for between $9 and $10 a share, the USAToday reported in its Friday edition. The stock closed on Thursday at $7.96 and jumped 73 cents, or 9 percent, in Friday trading.

The deal could usher in a long-awaited round of consolidation for the online brokers, which have been hit by losses and layoffs, the report said.

Ameritrade declined to comment on the report, citing its policy not to comment on speculation.

To be sure, Ameritrade appears to have suffered more than its peers. E*Trade, which has moved its stock listing from the Nasdaq to the more prestigious New York Stock Exchange, most recently reported profits of $868,000 for the tumultuous first quarter and broadened its click 'n mortar strategy through the opening of physical branches. And last December, Bain Capital led an investor group that scooped up majority control of Datek Online Holdings.

All the while, Ameritrade has been cutting as many as 350 jobs and reshuffling its executive suites. For its part, Ameritrade reported Friday that the company opened 44,000 new accounts for a total of 1,517,000 open for April 2001, down from 56,000 in March. Ameritrade also reported average daily trade volume during April of 119,000 trades per day, up from March levels when daily volume totaled about 100,000.