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Online brokerages Monex Inc. and Nikko Beans Inc. said Friday they will merge their operations in August to secure an edge in individual securities investment.

Monex, an affiliate of Sony Corp., and Nikko Beans, a subsidiary of Nikko Cordial Securities Inc., will join under a holding company, Monex Beans Holdings Inc.

The combined company will become the second-largest online brokerage, following Matsui Securities Co., in terms of revenue, company officials said.

The Nikko Cordial group will be the largest shareholder of the new company, with a 32.87 percent stake; Sony will hold a 20.09 percent share.

Both companies, established in 1999, when restrictions on brokerage commissions were lifted, have been attracting individual investors with their low fees. They are posting strong earnings this year due to a recent market rally.

But they are trailing bigger rivals, including Matsui, which has been aggressively pursuing an expansion policy and deeply cutting brokerage fees.

During a news conference to announce the merger, Monex chief executive Oki Matsumoto denied the two firms were merging to survive.

He said the merger was part of efforts to prepare an integrated line of financial services for individuals. More people are expected to pay greater attention to their asset management amid growing distrust of the public pension system, he said.

“We cannot merely sell quick and cheap brokerage services anymore,” he said. “We are required to offer high-level financial services.”

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