JP Morgan, Merrill, Goldman Look For Bigger Profits

As 2004 ends a major disappointment for many of the world's leading investment banks, attention is turning to 2005. And three of the big boys are looking at ways of increasing revenues.

JP Morgan is hoping to beef up its energy trading unit to muscle in on the riches enjoyed this year in this area by the likes of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. And the firm would consider making an acquisition, if the price was right.

Merrill Lynch has just set up a distressed equity desk, by bringing together some of its debt and equity specialists. A spokesman for the New York-based unit said that this 'is a natural evolution of our trading activities as more and more of our clients are analyzing companies across the capital structure'. The desk will trade in companies which are just entering or emerging from bankruptcy.

Finally, Goldman is looking to China and, to a lesser extent, Russia to bring home the bacon. Firm CEO Henry Paulson has visited China more than 70 times since 1990 and Goldman has been developing business in that country for at least the last five years. The firm plans to make further key hires in China next year in a bid to capture a larger slice of the investment banking pie there.

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