Speculation about who will buy Securities America revolves around two themes: the price and the fact that the buyer probably won't be LPL.
The discount theory operates on the premise that Ameriprise will dump its litigation-scarred independent brokerage unit as fast as it can.
Given Securities America's narrow profitability and serious remaining liabilities, its main resource is its advisors and their client relationships.
The longer those advisors stay in limbo, the more of them are likely to leave, pushing its market value downward.
As a result, Ameriprise probably wants to sign a deal within the quarter, even if the price is lower than what it would ordinarily entertain -- effectively trading valuation for convenience, just to get the deal done.
However, this very "distressed pricing" environment makes it less likely than ever that LPL will end up grabbing this hunk of the independent channel.
CEO Mark Casady told investors last week that he has no interest in buying a brokerage firm in distress, especially if it means taking over the liabilities as well as the assets.
That statement in itself cuts through all the talk about whether LPL wants to buy firms that clear on other platforms.
It's not about the platform as the fact that LPL is flush with cash, but wants to be choosy.