The market may not believe Morgan Stanley ( MS) is a bank, but it's sure trying to act like one. The newly-minted bank holding company on Wednesday put out an unusually populist press release touting the speed with which it has been beefing up its deposit base. The press release highlighted its "broad range of personal banking services," including $3 billion in CD deposits raised in the last four weeks alone, and "ATM access in more than one million convenient locations worldwide." "We want to raise awareness about the products we offer on the banking side of the business," says spokesman Mark Lake. Such announcements would have been viewed as beneath the dignity of the staid investment bank just a few weeks ago. However, since the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers last month, the stock market has been punishing Morgan Stanley and its chief rival, Goldman Sachs ( GS) for their capital markets-based funding model. Goldman on Wednesday was trading at around $98 a share, about 60% below its 52-week high, while Morgan was trading at $16, 76% below its high water mark over the past year. Shortly after Lehman's bankruptcy filing, both companies registered with the Federal Reserve to become banks and have stated their intention to grow their deposits both through existing channels and through possible mergers or acquisitions. Prior to the change in status it appeared as if the former investment banks were focused on growing their deposit bases through acquisitions. The Financial Times reported Monday that Goldman approached Citigroup ( C) about a possible merger, but that Citi CEO Vikram Pandit immediately rejected the idea. A Citigroup spokesman declined to comment on the report, while Goldman spokespeople did not respond to an email message seeking comment.
Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley and Wachovia ( WB) had mulled partnering before the Fed allowed Morgan to become a bank holding company. Morgan has since secured a $9 billion investment from Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group ( MTU) and Wachovia was bought by Wells Fargo ( WFC). Morgan Stanley reported $36 billion of deposits at the end of the third quarter, while Goldman reported $29 billion as of August. They still have a lot of catching up to do. Citigroup reported $780 billion in deposits at the end of the third quarter and JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) $970 billion.