Top Firm May Be Forced To Confirm Another Big Write-Down

CNBC reports that Merrill Lynch may be forced to come out and confirm another large US subprime lending-related write-down ahead of its full year earnings report, due in mid-January. The news site quotes unnnamed 'senior people at the firm' who say that senior executives are lobbying to get the bad news out in the open as soon as possible. Rumours are flying that Merrill will announce additional write-downs of up to $6bn, taking this year's total to a massive $14bn.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Michael Smith, the CEO over at ANZ, has said that the wholesale funding markets look 'pretty nasty', and predicts that they will remain so for many months ahead.

CNBC also reports speculation that Bear Stearns CEO Jim Cayne is to step down in the New Year. One theory is that he will retain his chairman's title, handing over the CEO mantle to firm President Alan Schwartz.

Bloomberg reports that Credit Suisse plans to hire at least 70 investment bankers in the Asia-Pac region next year as part of its push to increase market share in bond and equity sales.

Finally, Institutional Investor polled 350 CEOs, CFOs and other executives to find out who they thought were the best investment banks. JPMorgan came out top, followed by Goldman, Citi, UBS, BofA, Lehman, Merrill, Morgan Stanley, Bear Stearns and Credit Suisse.

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