NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bank of America Corp BAC.N will spend as much as $20 million in the fourth quarter of 2009 to relaunch Merrill Lynch's name and long-time bull logo.
The former Merrill Lynch and & Co’s operations will now be known as Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, and be one of two primary units in Bank of America’s Global Wealth and Investment Management division, Sallie Krawcheck, the division’s president, told a press conference.
She called the Merrill Lynch operations and the U.S. Trust business, the other main unit, two of the industry’s “crown jewels,” adding that she feels the industry is beginning to rebound.
“It feels like momentum is turning,” she said.
Krawcheck said Merrill Lynch is now adding more advisers to its 15,000-member broker force than are leaving, reversing a trend from earlier this year, when several high-profile senior executives departed after Bank of America completed the acquisition of Merrill Lynch on January 1. The bull logo disappeared at the time of the merger.
Krawcheck and her senior staff are completing budgeting for the unit now, and will begin tackling a longer, three-year strategic plan by month’s end.
Bank of America acquired Merrill Lynch in a $29 billion deal agreed to at the height of the financial crisis last fall. The deal made Bank of America the largest wealth manager in the country.
U.S. Trust, the other major wealth business owned by Bank of America, will remain a separate brand from Merrill Lynch’s business, said Krawcheck. She said the two businesses need to work more closely together.
During the press conference, Krawcheck declined to comment on Bank of America’s CEO search. She has been tapped as a possible internal successor -- along with the company’s other major business unit heads -- for retiring Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis.
Bank of America shares were up 3.2 percent, or 53, to $16.87 in afternoon trading.
Reporting by Joe Rauch, editing by Gerald E. McCormick
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