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Chaos Passes But Unease Remains At Merrill

After days of chaos inside Merrill Lynch—chaos that was felt from the board room to the water coolers—Stan O'Neal has finally been allowed to retire. Confusion still reigned this morning as people inside the Wall Street firm read media reports claiming Ahmass Fakahany, Stan O'Neal apparatchik who had a hand in overseeing risk management, was resigning and only hours later learned that he was being retained as a co-president.
Nonetheless, the widespread view within Merrill Lynch's rank-and-file is that Ahmass has been fired in every way that matters. It seems that he has been moved over to operations, and away from the more important businesses at the firm, including risk management.
The failure to name even an interim has left many at Merrill with a sense of unease. With November fast approaching, many employees at all levels of the firm are scheduled to receive quarterly performance and shortly after that should learn their bonus numbers. But talk of a "new strategy" at Merrill and a void of leadership at the top has many feeling that although the initial period of chaos as passed, there remains too much uncertainty at the firm.