End of an era: Ricketts family members to relinquish TD Ameritrade board seats in 2016

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Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2013 12:00 am

TD Ameritrade said Thursday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that members of the founding Ricketts family have agreed to relinquish their board seats in 2016, which would end decades of close family involvement in one of Omaha's best-known companies.

The Omaha-based online stock brokerage and wealth manager, employer of about 2,000 people in the metro area, was founded by Joe Ricketts in 1975 as a cheaper way for people to buy and sell shares of publicly traded companies, via telephone and then by computer.

The family, the largest shareholder after TD Bank, has been intimately involved in the company's management and direction ever since. The 2016 voluntary departure from the board of Todd Ricketts and Pete Ricketts, sons of the founder, marks an end to an era.

“Joe Ricketts and his family remain significant shareholders of TD Ameritrade,” read a statement released by family spokesman Allan Mayer. “They believe the company is exceptionally well-positioned to continue building substantial value for shareholders.”

According to amendments to the company's shareholder agreement filed with the SEC, the Ricketts family “shall take all necessary action” to cause family members on the board to “resign or be removed” from the board the day before the 2016 annual meeting. The family owns about 67 million shares of TD Ameritrade, and will no longer have the power to control any board seats.

Shares of the company have risen about 90 percent in the past year. This year, the company moved into a new $250 million office building at 200 S. 108th Ave.

Also in the SEC filing, the company said it has updated its agreement with largest shareholder TD Bank. The new agreement specifies that TD Bank will make efforts to keep its percentage of share ownership in TD Ameritrade below 45 percent, which would give the brokerage more wiggle room to buy back shares from investors.

The departure of the Ricketts family from the board says nothing about the company's commitment to Omaha, TD Ameritrade spokeswoman Kim Hillyer said.

“We just opened our new headquarters building this spring,” she said. “Our investment in this facility is a commitment to our associates and the Omaha community. We expect to be here for many years to come.”

The Ricketts and TD Ameritrade are closely connected, but other endeavors have been occupying the family's appointment calendar, mainly in politics, professional sports and philanthropy.

>> Joe Ricketts is the main contributor to Ending Spending, a super PAC that favors smaller government and Republican candidates. The group spent $10 million on television ads and voter outreach efforts on behalf of GOP candidate Mitt Romney's unsuccessful bid to oust President Barack Obama in the last presidential election. He retired as CEO in 1999 and, when he retired from the TD Ameritrade board in 2011, he cited a desire to spend time on early-stage companies he operates. He also is the founder and benefactor of the Opportunity Education Foundation, which provides educational equipment and resources to schools in 11 countries.

>> Pete Ricketts is one of five Republicans seeking the party's nomination to replace Gov. Dave Heineman, who cannot serve again because of term limits. Pete Ricketts is a founder of Drakon LLC, an Omaha-based asset management company. He also is a donor to the non-profit Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, which runs nebraskawatchdog.org.

>> Todd Ricketts, along with Pete Ricketts, is a director of Chicago Baseball Holding, parent company of the Chicago Cubs Major League Baseball team. Tom Ricketts, another son of Joe Ricketts, led the family's bid for the team in 2009 and serves as team chairman.

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