E*Trade Dumps CEO in Possible Sign of Buyout by TD Ameritrade

E*Trade Financial (NASDAQ:ETFC) ousted Steven J. Freiberg as Chief Executive Officer, and appointed its board chairman Frank Petrilli to assume the position on an interim basis, as the company seeks for a new leader in an effort to boost its financial position.

E*Trade Dumps CEO in Possible Sign of Buyout by TD Ameritrade

Freiberg left the company two years earlier, before the end of his four year contract to serve as CEO of the company. Prior to his career at E*Trade Financial (NASDAQ:ETFC), he worked at Citigroup (NYSE:C) for three decades, as head of the bank’s consumer group responsible in handling individual investments, retail banking, and credit cards.

In 2011, Freiberg received $6.3 million total compensation from the company, which included non-equity incentive compensation based on performance (almost 50 percent),  a$1 million dollar base salary and $1.5 million in stock awards and option awards. In 2010, he received $3 million total compensation.

In a statement, Petrilli said E*Trade’s board of directors believe the time is appropriate to “transition the role of a CEO to a new leader to guide the Company through the next phase of its evolution,” as the company recently improved its business strategy centered on strengthening its financial position, while it continues to focus on its core brokerage business.

In addition, Petrilli said, “We have realigned the Bank organization to exclusively focus on de-risking and de-leveraging, while bolstering the Company’s enterprise risk management function. Additionally, we are focused on reducing costs with an enhanced focus on efficiencies.”

E*trade’s stock value was adversely affected by the collapse of the housing market, and its stock value dropped by almost 50 percent during the past year. Within the 52-week range, its shares decline from its peak price $12.45 per share to $7.08 (lowest trading price). Its stock is trading around $8.58 on Thursday morning.

Since January 2012, Petrilli serves as director and chairman of the board of E*Trade. He was the former CEO of Surge Trading Inc.

The board of directors of the company also announced the appointment of Roger Lawson as Lead Independent Director, to serve as representative for non-management directors. A committee was formed to supervise the search for a permanent CEO to lead the company.

David B and of The Wall Street Journal are now reporting that many analysts think that the CEO change could be tied to a possible sale. The most likely buyer is said to be  TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. (NYSE:AMTD)