Merrill Lynch -- a relative paragon of silence during the credit crisis, while competitors have been dealing with pricing issues, layoffs, and more layoffs -- now appears as if it's about to join into the Wall Street fray. The firm is planning to cut its investment banking staff by as much as 10 to 15 percent, according to a report published Tuesday morning by Dealmaker. The alleged reductions would affect roughly 300 bankers, and Dealmaker's sources suggested that high-level executives would not be immune from a reshuffling of the proverbial deck at Merrill. The publication reported that the firm has been identifying candidates for cuts since the earliest part of this year, and that "cuts are expected to be the heaviest among its senior officers." Driving the job cuts is a likely large write down when the firm reports its first quarter results, Dealmaker senior editor Erica Copulsky notes:
In addition, three people close to the situation say Merrill also is preparing another major write-down. While visibility on the timing and size of the loss is not fully clear, some people familiar with the matter estimate the number could be as high as $8 billion.
The cuts at Merrill would come as the Street deals with a bloodletting not seen since the dot-com era market troubles; Housing Wire reported last week on similar layoffs at Citi and Goldman Sachs. Merrill has a long-standing policy of rarely, if ever, commenting to the press. This latest report is no exception, with press representatives at the firm declining to comment.