The Full Wiki

Merrill Lynch: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

Bank of America Merrill Lynch is the investment banking and wealth management division of Bank of America. With over 20,000 brokers and $2.5 trillion in client assets it is the world's largest brokerage. Formerly known as Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., prior to 2009 the firm was publicly owned and traded on the New York Stock Exchangemarker under the ticker symbol MER. The firm was acquired by Bank of America under distressed circumstances during the 2008 Financial Crisis, at which point Bank of America merged its global banking and wealth management division with the newly acquired firm.

This article describes both the historical Merrill Lynch and its ongoing operations as a subsidiary of the bank. Merrill Lynch provides capital markets services, investment banking and advisory services, wealth management, asset management, insurance, banking and related financial services worldwide. Merrill Lynch is headquartered in New York City, and occupies the entire 34 stories of the Four World Financial Centermarker building in Manhattanmarker.


The company was founded on January 6, 1914, when Charles E. Merrill & Co. opened for business at 7 Wall Streetmarker in New York City. A few months later, Merrill's friend, Edmund C. Lynch, joined him, and in 1915 the name was officially changed to Merrill, Lynch & Co. At that time, the firm's name included a comma between Merrill and Lynch. In 1916, Winthrop H. Smith joined the firm.

In its early history, Merrill, Lynch & Co. made several successful investments. In 1921, the company purchased Pathé Exchange, which later became RKO Pictures. In 1926, the firm made its most significant financial investment at the time, purchasing a controlling interest in Safeway, transforming the small grocery store into the country's third largest grocery store chain by the early 1930s. Following this investment, the company further increased its investment banking focus by transferring its retail brokerage services to E.A. Pierce.

In 1940, the firm merged with E. A. Pierce & Co. and Cassatt & Co. and was briefly known as Merrill Lynch, E. A. Pierce, and Cassatt. The company became the first on Wall Street to publish an annual fiscal report in 1941. Also in 1941, Fenner & Beane joined the firm, and the name became Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Beane. After Edmund Lynch's death in 1952, the company changed its name to Merrill Lynch & Co. and was officially incorporated. On December 31, 1957, The New York Times referred to that name as "a sonorous bit of Americana" and said "After sixteen years of popularizing [it], Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner, and Beane is going to change it—and thereby honor the man who has been largely responsible for making the name of a brokerage house part of an American saga," Winthrop H. Smith, who had been running the company since 1940. The merger made the company the largest securities firm in the world, with offices in over 98 cities and membership on 28 exchanges. At the start of the firm's fiscal year on March 1, 1958, the firm's name became Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith and the company became a Big Board member of the New York Stock Exchangemarker.

Merrill Lynch rose to prominence on the strength of its brokerage network (15,000+ as of 2006), sometimes referred to as the "thundering herd", that allowed it to place securities it underwrote directly. In contrast, many established Wall Street firms, such as Morgan Stanley, relied on groups of independent brokers for placement of the securities they underwrote. Until as late as 1970, it was known as the "Catholic" firm of Wall Street. The firm went public in 1971 and has since become a multinational corporation with over US $1.8 trillion in client assets, operating in more than 40 countries around the world. In 1978, it significantly buttressed its securities underwriting business by acquiring White Weld & Co., a small but prestigious old-line investment bank. Merrill Lynch is best known for its Global Private Client services and its strong sales force.

On November 1, 2007, Merrill Lynch CEO Stanley O'Neal left the company, after being criticized for the way he handled the firm's risk management and the subprime mortgage crisis, which resulted in about US $2.24 billion in unexpected losses, and for discussing in public the possible merger with Wachovia banking corporation, without being authorized by the board to do so. He left Merrill Lynch with about US $161 million worth of stock options and retirement benefits. John Thain, CEO of the New York Stock Exchangemarker, succeeded him as CEO on December 1, 2007.

On January 17, 2008, Merrill Lynch reported a $9.83 billion fourth quarter loss incorporating a $16.7 billion write down of assets associated with subprime mortgages. On April 17, 2008, Merrill Lynch reported a net loss of $1.97 billion for the first quarter of 2008.
Merrill responded to its losses by raising capital through the sale of preferred shares, however experts suggest that such a strategy may pose a risk to the company's credit rating which could cause an increase to the company's borrowing costs.

On January 22, 2009 John Thain resigned as CEO of the company after it was disclosed that he had rushed to pay out $3–4 billion dollars in fourth quarter bonuses to Merrill employees by the end of 2008, just prior to Bank of America's acquisition of the company became final. Thain allegedly did not disclose the bonus payouts to Bank of America negotiators. Bank of America has recently asked the United States Treasury for an additional $20 billion in emergency capital, primarily in order to cover losses at its Merrill Lynch subsidiary. Thain was also named as a co-defendant in a class-action lawsuit filed by shareholders against Bank of America and Merrill Lynch on January 22, 2009. The suit alleges that Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis, ex-Merrill Chief Financial Officer Nelson Chai, ex-Merrill Chief Accounting Officer Gary Carlinand, and Thain failed to warn shareholders of the magnitude of Merrill's losses prior to the Bank of America acquisition.

Subprime mortgage crisis

In November 2007, Merrill Lynch announced it would write-down $8.4 billion in losses associated with the national housing crisis and remove E. Stanley O'Neal as its chief executive. O'Neal had earlier approached Wachovia bank for a merger, without prior Board approval, but the talks ended after O'Neal's dismissal. In December 2007, the firm announced it would sell its commercial finance business to General Electric and sell off major shares of its stock to Temasek Holdings, a Singaporemarker investment group, in an effort to raise capital. The deal raised over $6 billion. In July 2008, the new CEO of Merrill Lynch, John Thain, announced $4.9 billion fourth quarter losses for the company from defaults and bad investments in the ongoing mortgage crisis. In one year between July 2007 and July 2008, Merrill Lynch lost $19.2 billion, or $52 million daily. The company's stock price had also declined significantly during that time. Two weeks later, the company announced the sale of select hedge funds and securities in an effort to reduce their exposure to mortgage related investments. Temasek Holdings agreed to purchase the funds and increase its investment in the company by $3.4 billion.

Andrew Cuomo, New York Attorney General, threatened to sue Merrill Lynch in August 2008, over their misrepresentation of the risk on mortgage-backed securities. A week earlier, Merrill Lynch had offered to buy back $12 billion in auction-rate debt and said they were surprised by the lawsuit. Three days later, the company froze hiring and revealed that they had charged almost $30 billion in losses to their subsidiary in the United Kingdom, exempting them from taxes in that country. On August 22, 2008, CEO John Thain announced an agreement with the Massachusetts Secretary of State to buy back all auction-rate securities from customers with less than $100 million in deposit with the firm, beginning in October 2008 and expanding in January 2009. On September 5, 2008 Goldman Sachs downgraded Merrill Lynch's stock to "conviction sell" and warned of further losses from the company. Bloomberg reported in September 2008 that Merrill Lynch had lost $51.8 billion in mortgage-backed securities as part of the subprime mortgage crisis.

Sale to Bank of America

Significant losses were attributed to the drop in value of its large and unhedged mortgage portfolio in the form of Collateralized Debt Obligations. Trading partners' loss of confidence in Merrill Lynch's solvency and ability to refinance short-term debt ultimately led to its sale. On September 14, 2008, Bank of America announced it was in talks to purchase Merrill Lynch for $38.25 billion in stock. The Wall Street Journal reported later that day that Merrill Lynch was sold to Bank of America for 0.8595 shares of Bank of America common stock for each Merrill Lynch common share, or about US$50 billion or $29 per share. This price represented a 70.1% premium over the September 12 closing price or a 38% premium over Merrill's book value of $21 a share, but that also meant a discount of 61% from its September 2007 price. Congressional testimony by Bank of American CEO Kenneth Lewis, as well as internal emails released by the House Oversight Committee, indicate that Bank of America was threatened with the firings of the management and board of Bank of America as well as damaging the relationship between the bank and federal regulators, if Bank of America did not go through with the acquisition of Merrill Lynch.

In March 2009 it was reported that in 2008, Merrill Lynch received billions of dollars from its insurance arrangements with AIG, including $6.8bn from funds provided by the United States taxpayers to bail out AIG.

Orange County settlement

Merrill Lynch settled with Orange County California for a massive $400 million to settle accusations that it sold inappropriate and risky investments to former county treasurer Robert Citron. Citron lost $1.69 billion, which forced the county to file for bankruptcy in December 1994. The county sued a dozen or more securities companies, advisors and accountants, but Merrill settled without admitting liability in June 1998. The county was able to recover about $600 million in total (including the $400 million from Merrill).

Regulatory actions

Analyst Research settlement

In 2002, Merrill Lynch settled for a fine of $100 million for publishing misleading research. As part of the agreement with the New York attorney general and other state securities regulators, Merrill Lynch agreed to increase research disclosure and work to decouple research from investment banking.

A well known analyst at Merrill Lynch named Henry Blodget wrote in company e-mails in which Blodget gave assessments about stocks which conflicted with what was publicly published by Merrill. In 2003, he was charged with civil securities fraud by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.[6] He settled without admitting or denying the allegations and was subsequently barred from the securities industry for life. He paid a $2 million fine and $2 million disgorgement.

The CEO at that time, David Komansky, said, "I publicly apologize to our clients, our shareholders, and our employees," for the company falling short of its professional standards in research.

Enron/Merrill Lynch Nigerian barge

In 2004 convictions of Merrill executives marked the only instance in the Enron investigation where the government criminally charged any officials from the banks and securities firms that allegedly helped the energy giant execute its accounting fraud. The case revolved around a 1999 transaction involving Merrill, Enron and the sale of some electricity-producing barges off the coast of Nigeria. The charges surrounded the 1999 sale of an interest in Nigerian energy barges by an Enron entity to Merrill Lynch was a sham that allowed Enron to illegally book about $12 million in pretax profit, when in fact there was no real sale and no real profit.

Four former Merrill top executives and two former midlevel Enron officials faced conspiracy and fraud charges. Merrill cut its own deal, firing bankers and agreeing to the outside oversight of its structured-finance transactions. It also settled civil fraud charges brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, without admitting or denying fault.

Discrimination charges

On June 26, 2007, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought suit against Merrill Lynch, alleging the firm discriminated against Dr. Majid Borumand because of his Iranian nationality and Islamic religion, with "reckless disregard" for his protected civil rights. The EEOC law suit maintains that violations by members of the firm were intentional and committed with malice. In another case concerning mistreatment of another Iranian employee by Merrill Lynch on July 20, 2007, a NASD arbitration panel ordered Merrill Lynch to pay its former Iranian employee, Fariborz Zojaji, $1.6 million for firing him due to his Persian ethnicity. Merrill Lynch's actions prompted reactions from both the National Iranian-American council, and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

In its June 2008 issue, Diversity Inc. named Merrill Lynch one of the top 10 companies for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered employees, and the #7 top company in the US for diversity overall. In 2007, Merrill Lynch was named the #2 best company in the US for people with disabilities by Diversity Magazine. As of June 5, 2008, Merrill Lynch has created the West Asian, Middle Eastern and North African (WAMENA) Professional Network to help support and provide additional resources for employees of diverse backgrounds. In May 2008, Merrill Lynch was named the #1 US company for "Diverse College Graduates" by Diversity Edge magazine, edging out Microsoft for the top spot on the rankings.

New Jersey appeals court on August 13, 2008 rendered a ruling against Merrill Lynch in a discrimination law suit filed by a gay employee.

Market timing settlement

In 2002 Merrill Lynch settled for 10 million civil penalty as a result of improper activities that took place out of the firms Fort Lee New Jersey office. Three financial advisors, and a fourth who was involved to a lesser degree, placed 12,457 trades for a client Millennium Partners in at least 521 mutual funds and 63 mutual fund sub-accounts of at least 40 variable annuities. Millennium made profits in over half of the funds and fund sub-accounts. In those funds where Millennium made profits, its gains totaled about $60 million. Merrill Lynch failed to reasonably supervise these financial advisers, whose market timing siphoned short-term profits out of mutual funds and harmed long-term investors.

2008 bonus payments

Merrill Lynch arranged for payment of billions in bonuses in what appeared to be "special timing". These bonuses totaling 3.6 billion were one-third of the money they received from the feds' TARP bailout. In addition, the timing of these bonuses angered many people because they were authorized before the bank was to be acquired by Bank of America. It is now a forgone conclusion that without the rescue by BOA, Merrill would have collapsed. In 2008, Merrill lost billions yet still paid out 3.6 billion in bonuses.

The Merrill bonuses were determined by Merrill's Compensation Committee at its meeting of December 8, 2008, shortly after BOA shareholders approved the merger but before financial results for the Fourth Quarter had been determined. This appeared to be a departure from normal company practice, since the type of bonus Merrill awarded was a performance bonus that, according to company policy, was supposed to reflect all four quarters of performance and was paid in January or later. In this case, however, the bonuses were awarded in December before Fourth Quarter performance had been determined.

They were also very large relative to the TARP monies allocated to Merrill. The Merrill bonuses were the equivalent of 36.2% of TARP monies Treasury allocated to Merrill. Merrill employees had to have a salary of at least $300,000 and attained the title of Vice President or higher to be eligible.

Other Difficulties

The bank was fined €2.75m in 2009 after it found that traders in London failed to appropriately value their positions in two incidents that lost the company $461m. It happened because Merrill failed to have in place "a well-defined and transparent line of supervisory responsibility" and there was "a failure to supervise the trader's activity and an inadequate month-end independent price verification process". Additionally "it was found that there was a failure to manage effectively market risk limits in respect of the trader's activities."

Merrill was lambasted after saying that Anglo Irish Bank was "financially sound" after obtaining a fee of over $11 million. Days later the institution had to be nationalized.

Industry awards

In 2008, Merrill Lynch was crowned Deal of the year - Equity Market Deal of the year at the 2008 ALB SE Asia Law Awards.

At the 2008 ALB China Law Awards, Merrill Lynch was crowned Deal of the Year - Equity Market Deal of the Year, and was also awarded Deal of the Year - M&A Deal of the Year at the 2008 ALB Hong Kong Law Awards.

See also


  3. "McCrory Stores Corporation," display advertisement, The New York Times, December 15, 1915, p. 18. In full: An Investment embracing safety, good income, and possibilities for considerable advancement in market value is presented in the Preferred Stock of the McCrory Stores Corporation. Price to yield 7%. Write for Circular T. M. MERRILL, LYNCH & CO. 7 Wall Street, NEW YORK. Penobscot Bldg. DETROIT. Telephone Rector 4940.
  4. "$15,000,000 Sought By Crucible Steel." The New York Times, December 19, 1940, p. 39, lists "Merrill Lynch, E. A. Pierce and Cassatt," with a single comma following Lynch and the word "and" rather than an ampersand, as one of a number of firms underwriting an issue of bonds by Montana-Dakota Utilities Company.
  5. "Revising a Sonorous Piece of Americana: Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith." The New York Times, December 31, 1957, p. 29
  6. Merrill Lynch - Total Merrill - Total Merrill
  7. Edwin J. Perkins, Wall Street to Main Street: Charles Merrill and Middle-Class Investors, Cambridge University Press: 1999
  8. Ron Chernow, The House of Morgan, Touchstone Books, 1990.
  9. James B. Stewart, Den of Thieves, Touchstone Books, 1992. "[I]n 1971, Wall Street was still split between the "Jewish" and the "WASP" firms. At an earlier time, when major corporations and banks had discriminated overtly against Jews, Wall Street had rewarded merit and enterprise. Firms like Goldman, Sachs, Lehman Brothers, and Kuhn, Loeb & Co. (made up historically of Jews of German descent) had joined the ranks of the most prestigious WASP firms: Morgan Stanley—an outgrowth of J. P. Morgan's financial empire—First Boston, Dillon, Read, and Brown Brothers Harriman. Giant Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith, something of an anomaly, had once been considered the "Catholic" firm. Kidder, Peabody remained firmly in the WASP camp."
  11. Merrill Lynch Reports
  15. AIG ships billions in bailout abroad, The Politico, March 15, 2009
  16. A.I.G. Lists Firms It Paid With Taxpayer Money, The New York Times, March 15, 2009
  20. U.S. Sues Merrill on Treatment of Muslim
  21. EEOC vs. Merrill Lynch $ Co. - Complaint
  22. Discrimination Ruling Another Black Eye for Merrill
  23. Fired Iranian broker wins $1.6M from Merrill

Further reading

External links

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address