Will Stan O'Neal Be CEO Of Merrill Lynch A Second Time Around?

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Possibly! The Deal reports that there has been growing chatter that Bank of America will IPO Merrill in the next two or three years. Of course, this would require that Ken Lewis craft a good story for why he'd want to do such a thing to his bright shining star (after having fired a metric asston of MER/BAC employees), but there's plenty of time to come up with something. Plus Lewis has already said he'll be out the door sometime between now and three years from now, so the problem would very well fall into someone else's lap (Mozilo). In an interview with The Deal, Getzler Henrich's Dino Mauricio claims that while the whole BAC-MER integration has been a bit of a bitch (and is also far from completed), taking Merrill public in the future could be more profitable to shareholders in the long run.

"As a spinoff it allows shareholders to maximize the value to the asset. But this would at least two years from now. The market doesn't value Merrill beyond its standalone value. The merger makes sense for now. You have a set of banks whose quality of assets are under intense scrutiny. Merrill's capital markets, M&A, and the brokerage businesses are handcuffed right now due to the down economy, but as the economy improves so those businesses will flourish again."
Mauricio also said that changes to the investment banking model and the commercial bank landscape could factor in. "As investment banks are forced to become more conservative in investment and trading activities, access to BofA's huge asset base becomes less of a competitive advantage for Merrill in the long run," he said.

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