BofA to shed Merrill Lynch's identity

More than four years after being acquired by Bank of America (BofA), Merrill Lynch & Co, the 99-year-old firm, may cease to exist as a legal entity.

BofA, however, will keep the Merrill Lynch brand for its retail brokerage and investment bank, and will assume Merrill Lynch's obligations and debt.

After owning Merrill Lynch at the dawn of 2009, BofA has been operating it as a subsidiary, but a full merger with the parent company will allow BofA to assume Merrill's obligations and debt.

Charlotte, North Carolina-based BofA had in September 2008 acquired Merrill Lynch in an all stock deal worth about $50 billion (See: Bank of America buys Merrill Lynch).

BofA is one of the world's largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small- and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services.

According to analysts, this fusion will have no impact on the clients or customers of both the organisations around the globe.

Dissolving the legal entity also ends Merrill Lynch's need to file separate regulatory disclosures, analysts say.

Merrill's Securities and Exchange Commission filing said the possible merger is part of a streamlining effort in which Bank of America "intends to continue to reduce the number of its subsidiaries," partly "through intercompany mergers."