Merrill Lynch lures back former executive

Stan O´Neal, Merrill Lynch chairman and chief executive, made another move to overhaul his management team on Tuesday, turning to a figure from Merrill´s past to strengthen his ranks following the departure of two top aides.

Robert McCann, 45, who left the investment bank in March, returns as vice chairman for wealth management. He reports to Mr O´Neal and is a member of Merrill´s executive and operating committees. 'I am extremely proud both of the history of Merrill Lynch and excited about the future of the company,' Mr McCann said. 'Merrill Lynch is in my blood.'

The appointment follows the unravelling of Mr O´Neal´s inner circle. Tom Patrick, 60, executive vice chairman, was dismissed two weeks ago. His protégé, Arshad Zakaria, 41, head of investment banking, announced his departure from the company last week.
The changes came afer Mr Patrick had pushed Merrill´s board to name Mr Zakaria president, a position Mr O´Neal, who is 51, has said he does not plan to fill.

Hiring Mr McCann, who was well liked by employees, is seen as a step in allaying employee concerns created by Mr Patrick, the executor of a cost cutting plan that shed about 24,000 jobs. It also puts the future of at least two prominent business heads into question.

To woo Mr McCann back, Mr O´Neal created a new position with overall responsibility for the global private client, Merrill Lynch investment managers and global securities research and economics units.

That means Mr McCann will now oversee former colleagues. But Mr McCann said he expected the team to remain intact. As a member of the company´s executive management prior to his departure, Mr McCann said he had worked closely with James Gorman, president of the global private client business, Bob Doll, president and chief investment officer of Merrill Lynch investment managers, and Candace Browning, who succeeded Mr McCann as head of research.

Mr McCann has lived through several of Merrill´s rough spots. He became head of research in October 2001, just months before it became the target of an investigation into conflicts of interest by Eliot Spitzer, the New York attorney-general.

He resigned as head of research at Merrill in February after 21 years at the company. In June, he took a job as vice chairman and director of distribution and marketing for Axa Financial, a post he started just last month. Despite his quick exit, Axa said 'We wish him much success.'

During his career at Merrill Lynch, Mr McCann held senior positions, including chief operating officer of global markets and investment banking, head of the global institutional client division, and head of global equities. He has had little direct experience with brokerage or asset management.

Soure: Financial Times

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