Less than a week after Stan O’Neal retired as CEO and Chairman of Merrill Lynch, sources in the know say the firm’s Board of Directors has offered the position to BlackRock’s Chairman and founder Larry Fink, according to CNBC. This might not come as a total surprise since Fink was rumored to a possible successor to O’Neal. The 54-year-old asset management company already has strong ties to the brokerage since it took over Merrill’s proprietary asset-management unit in 2006. Fink says he’ll decide whether to take the position over the next two weeks, during which he will have to weigh his large ownership stake in BlackRock.
Fink, a California native “with deep roots in the mortgage markets,” founded BlackRock in 1988 after working at private equity firm Blackstone Group. (He seems to have an affinity with black sediment?) Fink is lauded with a 28 percent jump in BlackRock’s share price (this year alone). Merrill shares could use that kind of pop: They’ve dropped about 29 percent this year. If the rumor is true, Fink beat out Merrill’s own co-president Greg Fleming, and leader of the brokerage arm, Bob McCann, who were also rumored to be next in line.
Back in September 2006, Registered Rep. caught up with Fink, who hit it off with O'Neal so quickly in a BlackRock conference room in early January 2006 that they were able to complete a deal in just three weeks.