Merrill to Focus More On Wealthy in Japan, Komansky Says U.S. Market Has Bottomed Out

Mirroring its focus on high net worth investors in the U.S., Merrill Lynch has decided to concentrate on wealthy individuals in Japan.

Mirroring its focus on high net worth investors in the U.S., Merrill Lynch has decided to concentrate on wealthy individuals in Japan.

To do that, Merrill says it will spend $80 million to $100 million this year to reduce the size of its money-losing Japanese brokerage division, according to its most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Merrill spent over $2 billion before taxes in the fourth quarter to eliminate thousands of jobs and close offices around the world, all part of President Stanley O'Neal effort to improve profitability.

Merrill spent $380 million during the fourth quarter to close most of its offices in Japan and slash the size of its staff in the country. Meanwhile, Merrill Lynch CEO David Komansky says the U.S. economy and stock markets are both “in a bottoming process now'' and that the firm will continue to aggressively manage costs.

Komansky told a group of businessmen in Boca Raton, Florida that Merrill is ``properly sized, properly positioned for even a mediocre environment in the marketplace.''

He added that ``a significant degree of pent-up demand'' for mergers, acquisitions, and IPOs is being created during this period as companies continue to be cautious.

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