Merrill to review global set-up

Merrill Lynch is considering a wide-ranging review of its management structure, which could ultimately lead to greater autonomy for its main regions by the creation of regional chief executives.

Senior Merrill executives are conscious that the rapid expansion in markets away from its New York base may render the traditional centralisation of management responsibility less relevant, and they are prepared to consider changes that would reflect the greater internationalisation of the business.

Any changes are unlikely to be implemented for some time but initial soundings suggest regional chief executives may be appointed in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

In Europe, there are three potential candidates; Michael Marks, Kevan Watts and Anders Bergendahl.

Mr Marks is the former chairman of Smith New Court, which Merrill acquired last year. He is co-head of Merrill Lynch's Global Equities Group and the only non-US based member of the firm's executive management committee in New York. Mr Bergendahl is co-head of the firm's Global Debt Capital Markets Group. Mr Watts is head of investment banking in Europe.

The expansion of Merrill's European operations has been dramatic. Apart from the acquisition of Smith New Court, it has also built up a sizeable investment banking business.

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