ING Beefs Up Brokerage with Sharebuilder Buy

ING Direct has agreed to buy ShareBuilder Corporation's online brokerage business for $220 million.

The move is designed to to extend ING’s “…retail investment products range and geographical spread in the US,” according to a press release.

When asked how ING’s acquisition of ShareBuilder will impact the 401(k) group, which offers an ETF-option 401(k) program, Stuart Robertson, general manager of ShareBuilder 401(k), said “no changes are expected.”

ShareBuilder, a privately held brokerage based in Seattle, will be added to ING’s online banking arm ING Direct in a deal that is expected to close by the end of 2007, the bank said. ING Direct will absorb 661,000 ShareBuilder customers.

Under the terms of the agreement, ING DIRECT USA will acquire 100% of ShareBuilder Corporation’s outstanding equity-related interests. Like ING DIRECT USA, ShareBuilder targets early stage investors through a limited set of simple and high-value investment products including Stocks, Exchange Traded Funds, Options and Automatic Investment Plans, according to an announcement about the acquisition

Earlier this year, ShareBuilder began trying to raise awareness about 401(k) participant fees, specifically calling for fees to stay below the 1% mark and for total fee transparency (See ShareBuilder Trying to Increase 401(k) Fee Awareness).