Victorian stockbroking firms F.W. Holst and E.L. & C. Baillieu will merge.

Victorian stockbroking firms F.W. Holst and E.L. & C. Baillieu will merge. Photo: John Woudstra

TWO Victorian stockbroking firms dating back to the 19th century will merge to create a company with $8 billion in funds under advice.

E.L. & C. Baillieu will merge with its smaller rival F.W. Holst, aiming to capitalise on their common base of high net worth clients.

The privately owned Melbourne firms will together have more than 50,000 clients.

Baillieu has more than 65 advisers in institutional sales, retail broking and wealth management, while Holst has about 25 advisers. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"The merger we are announcing … will round out our offering to clients, combining Holst's and Baillieu's experience and expertise in retail and institutional broking, equity research, financial planning and corporate services,'' Baillieu's managing director, Gavin Powell, said.

He denied that competition from online rivals was the driving factor, instead blaming the drop in retail investment activity.

''What's changed rather than competition in the industry is that retail investors are fairly nervous and haven't been investing in the market the way they were [before the financial crisis],'' he said.

F. W. Holst has 50 staff in Melbourne and Geelong. E. L. & C. Baillieu has about 140 staff in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Bendigo and Newcastle. A "small number" of layoffs may result from the announcement.

Baillieu was founded in 1889. Holst was founded in Ballarat in 1893.