Amsterdam-based ING Direct, which has a U.S. banking subsidiary, said today that it is acquiring Bellevue-based ShareBuilder, an online brokerage business.
ING is paying $220 million, or 152 million euros, for Sharebuilder, which was founded in 1996.
I wrote a story about the company in 2004. At the time, it had 120 employees, and had raised $67 million in venture capital. The company started off as Netstock Direct, and launched ShareBuilder.com in 1999.
The company's business model included having co-branded relationships with more than 40 banks, 140 credit unions and other nonfinancial institutions, including Wells Fargo, National City Bank, Alaska Airlines, Costco and Safeco. It is also known for allowing people to individually invest by dollar figure instead of stock price. The end result is that the purchaser may own a partial share.
In 2005, I wrote about the company again, this time as part of a category of Northwest companies that were growing and had at least 100-plus employees -- and candidates for merger or an IPO.
Dick Harryvan, ING group executive board member and CEO of ING Direct, said in a press release:
"This acquisition is in line with ING Direct's aim to become the world's most preferred consumer bank by expanding geographically and developing its product range, while focusing on growing its mortgage business and investment services."