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Special> Global Financial Crisis> Background
UPDATED: October 25, 2008  
Merrill Lynch & Company Inc.

Merrill Lynch & Company Inc., the third largest U.S. investment bank, is a global financial services firm.

Through its subsidiaries and affiliates, the company provides capital markets services, investment banking and advisory services, wealth management, asset management, insurance, banking and related financial services worldwide. Merrill heralded the idea that everyone, not just the rich, should invest in the financial markets.

The company was founded on Jan. 6, 1914, when Charles E. Merrill opened business at 7 Wall Street in New York City. After Merrill's friend, Edmund C. Lynch, joined him, the company's name in 1915 was officially changed to Merrill, Lynch & Co., which has a comma between Merrill and Lvnch. In 1916, Winthrop H. Smith joined the firm.

After merged with E. A. Pierce & Co. and Cassatt & Co. in 1940, and Fenner & Beane joined in 1941, the company became the first on Wall Street to publish an annual fiscal report in 1941.

The company's name was finally changed to Merrill Lynch & Co. in 1952 when Edmund Lynch died, and it was officially incorporated.

Merrill is headquartered in New York City, and occupies the entire 34 stories of the Four World Financial Center building in Manhattan.

It survived wars and the Great Depression, but succumbed as an independent company to the mortgage meltdown that began in mid-2007.

On Sept. 14, 2008, Merrill announced that it had agreed to sell itself to Bank of America Corp. for roughly 44 billion U.S. dollars.

According to the deal, Bank of America will pay 29 dollars per share for the 94-year-old Merrill Lynch, which is 70 percent premium above Merrill's Friday close at 17.05 dollars per share. However, the offer is only two-thirds of Merrill's value of one year ago, and half its all-time peak value of early 2007.

There was a general worry inside the Federal Reserve that Merrill could be the next to face bankruptcy after Lehman. Merrill was forced to sell itself by the Fed, people familiar with the matter said.

(Agencies September 16, 2008)

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