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Merrill Lynch scales back, cuts 9,000

SHARE Merrill Lynch scales back, cuts 9,000

NEW YORK (AP) — Merrill Lynch & Co., the nation's biggest brokerage firm, said it has cut 9,000 jobs, or nearly 14 percent of its work force, as part of a plan to cut costs by $1.4 billion a year and boost profitability in a tough environment for financial services companies.

Merrill Lynch said Wednesday the steps would result in a pretax charge of $2.2 billion against its earnings in the recently completed fourth quarter.

About half of the job eliminations are from overseas and came after Merrill Lynch decided to scale back operations in Japan and Canada, said company spokesman James Wiggins.

The remaining job cuts are "scattered around the world, with the largest proportion in the U.S., because that's where most of our employees are," he said.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call had expected Merrill to report earnings of 48 cents a share for the last three months of 2001.

The financial services industry has suffered due to the economic slowdown around the world and the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.

David H. Komansky, chairman and chief executive, said the moves would make the company "leaner, more competitive, more focused than ever on serving clients in our chosen markets around the world."

The company said half of the job cuts are from divestitures and discontinued business and half are from voluntary separations and layoffs. The cuts followed 6,000 job eliminations at the company earlier last year, meaning Merrill has reduced its work force by 21 percent — ending 2001 with 57,000 employees, down from 72,000 at the start of the year.

It said other components of the charge being taken in the fourth quarter include consolidating its private client offices in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Australia and writedowns of certain technology assets.