Top Firm Says It Has No Urge To Merge

The Financial Times reports that, in the week that merger-mania gripped the financial markets, Merrill Lynch boss Stan O'Neal came out and said that his firm would not be looking for a merger with a large commercial bank.

In an interview with the newspaper, O'Neal confirmed that, despite rumours that he has been busy dressing 'Mother Merrill' up for sale over the last 18 months, he is not planning a 'transformational' deal. For the time being, it looks as if Merrill is determined to go it alone.

O'Neal said that he planned to make a further push on the retail and wealth management side of the firm's business and indicated that a strategy of modest acquisitions was likely. Having successfully rebuilt Merrill's fixed-income operations, O'Neal also said that he now planned to focus more on equities, leveraged finance and mergers and acquisitions.

The Merrill boss is said to have hinted at the possibiliity of making acquisitions in Germany, but insisted the time is not yet right. Clearly, as only last week Merrill announced that it was to sell its German private client business to UBS.

Merrill Lynch staff have had a tough time in the last two or three years, with over 20,000 losing their jobs. They will be happy to learn that their firm is likely, at least in the short-term, to be sitting out the next big round of consolidation in the industry.

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