Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.

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Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.
Ml brand.jpg
Founded 1914
Headquarters NY headquarters, offices in 38 countries
Employees 61,900
Products financial services

Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. was a global investment bank with clients in 150 countries and stated total client assets of approximately $2.2 trillion. Merrill Lynch (NYSE: MER) provided capital markets services, investment banking and advisory services, wealth management, asset management, insurance, banking and related products and services globally.[1]

Bank of America Corp. bought Merrill Lynch in September of 2008 in a $50 billion deal. Under terms of the transaction, BofA would exchange 0.8595 shares of its common stock for each Merrill Lynch common share.[2] The company sold itself to BofA in a "fire sale" in the middle of the 2008 financial crisis.

Merrill Lynch retained its name after the acquisition, but in February of 2019, more than 10 years later, Bank of America said it would phase out the name Merrill Lynch from its trading and investment-banking operations and would also rebrand the bulk of its wealth-management business as simply Merrill.[3]

Company Snapshot[edit]

Merrill Lynch's name over the years became a household word synonymous with finance and brokerage.

In the 1970s, Merrill Lynch emphasized its market position with an advertising campaign featuring a thundering herd of bulls, using the advertising line, "Merrill Lynch is bullish on America." Interesting, however, is that as bullish on America as they might have been, it was once rumored that the campaign was filmed in Mexico.


Like other financial firms of its generation, Merrill Lynch's name went through a number of iterations over its long history.

It was originally established by Charles Merrill in 1914 as Charles E. Merrill & Co. Edmund Lynch, whom he met at the YMCA in New York, joined a year later and the firm became Merill, Lynch & Co. It began as a bond house, underwriting securities and trading the debt of companies that wanted to raise money from investors. The company sold US government war bonds during the First World War. [4]

Winthrop H. Smith joined the company in 1916 and was involved on and off until he left his position as directing partner 42 years later.

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. Fenner & Beane was acquired in 1941, and the name became Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Beane. In 1958, the name changed to Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, a name it held for a number of years.

In 1971, Merill went public and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Merrill Lynch Asset Management was created five years later.

In October 2007, Chairman and CEO Stanley O'Neal left the firm as mortgage losses piled up. It later became known that O'Neal was in talks with Wachovia regarding a merger, but had neglected to inform the board of his intentions. John Thain, then CEO of NYSE Euronext, became Merrill Lynch chairman and CEO on Dec. 1, 2007. On Sept. 15, 2008, Bank of America Corp. acquired Merrill Lynch for $29 per share, forming Bank of America Merrill Lynch.[5]

Products and Services[edit]


  • In March 2009, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that Merrill Lynch had agreed pay $7 million to settle charges that the firm failed to control information regarding its institutional customer order flow, inappropriately allowing traders to listen to its "squawk box" broadcasts.[6]
  • In September 2008, Bank of America Corp. bought Merrill Lynch for $50 billion, or $29 per share.[7]
  • On Jan. 17, 2008, Merrill Lynch reported the worst quarter in the company's history - about $16 billion in mortgage-related writedowns and adjustments. Merrill's fourth-quarter net loss was $9.8 billion, or $12.01 a share, compared to year-ago profit of $2.3 billion, or $2.41 a share.[8]
  • On Nov. 14, 2007, John Thain, former NYSE head, was named to replace Stanley O'Neal as chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch. At the end of October 2007, O'Neal stepped down, leaving Alberto Cribiore, managing partner and founder of global private equity firm Brera Capital as interim non-executive chairman.[9] At the beginning of December, Thain pulled Nelson Chai, his former chief financial officer at NYSE Euronext, over to Merrill Lynch as executive vice president and chief financial officer.[10]
  • News reports over a number of weeks in October 2007 indicated that Stan O'Neal, board chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch, would likely step down.[11]
  • Merrill Lynch in the second quarter of 2007 reported net revenues of $9.7 billion, with total stockholder equity of $41 billion.[12] However, according to a Merrill Lynch press release from Oct. 24, 2007, Q3 2007 total net revenues of $577 million decreased 94 percent from $9.8 billion in the prior-year period. This was reportedly the biggest quarterly loss in Merrill Lynch's history.[13]
  • A press release issued by Merrill Lynch on Oct. 23, 2007, indicated that the firm had topped the annual Barron's survey of top wealth managers in the U.S., with the most in assets under management for individual clients with accounts of $1 million or more.
  • On April 22nd, 2015 the company was fined £13.2 million by the FCA for incorrect reporting of transactions. [14]