NU Online News Service, May 10, 4:35 p.m. – Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Company Inc., New York, has agreed to sell its Web-based discount securities brokerage operation to Bank of Montreal, Toronto, for $106 million.

The deal affects only accounts opened by customers who direct their own investments. Customers who have relationships with Morgan Stanley financial advisors will stay with Morgan Stanley, the companies say.

The Morgan Stanley business, which has an investor site at http://www.morganstanleyindividual.com, sells life insurance and annuities as well as stocks, bonds and mutual funds.

The Morgan Stanley Web brokerage is the second on-line brokerage the Bank of Montreal has acquired this year. The company bought CSFBdirect in February for $520 million from Credit Suisse First Boston, New York.

“Our growth strategy is to expand selectively and substantially in the U.S., while continuing to invest in our core Canadian franchise,” says Tony Comper, the Bank of Montreal’s chairman.

Completing the Morgan Stanley deal will give Harrisdirect, the bank’s “direct investing” business, a total of 1 million active accounts and $38 billion in assets under administration, the bank says.