Bank of America to drop U.S. Trust and Merrill Lynch names, rebrand wealth unit as just 'Merrill'

Wall Street Bull

Bank of America is dumping the Merrill Lynch and U.S. Trust brands

Two of the most vaunted names in banking are fading into retirement.

Bank of America said Monday it will gradually retire the U.S. Trust brand to become the Bank of America Private Bank. The move is part of CEO Brian Moynihan's "one-company" strategy to more closely align the bank's various businesses and branding.

The company will also no longer use the Merrill Lynch brand for its investment banking, global markets and capital markets group.

Bank of America purchased U.S. Trust from Charles Schwab in 2006 for $3.3 billion, calling it "one of the largest and most respected" wealth management firms.

U. S. Trust, founded in 1853 in New York, is the first and oldest trust company in the United States and became synonymous with America's moneyed elite. Its founders included Marshall Field, Erastus Corning and Joseph Lawrence, then mayor of New York, while its early clients included Gilded Age tycoons such as William Waldorf Astor and Oliver Harriman.

In addition, Bank of America will dump the name Merrill Lynch from its investment bank and trading operations and keep just "Merrill" as the brand for its wealth management division.

In a press release Monday, the company said it had already begun a multiyear advertising campaign to highlight the changes. It released a new corporate logo in November.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank acquired Merrill Lynch a decade ago in the heat of the financial crisis. It used to be known by its brokers as "Mother Merrill." But the name stuck with the firm even after the Bank of America merger where other storied Wall Street names, including Smith Barney and Bear Stearns, faded away.

The investment bank and trading business will now be called BofA Securities, while the units working with corporate clients will be called Bank of America.

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