Merrill Lynch is hungry to buy companies. James Gorman—recently appointed to the new position of head of Corporate Acquisitions, Strategy and Research—said at a press conference Thursday that the firm intends to increase both the size and the number of companies that it acquires. Merrill has already made seven acquisitions in the past year.
When asked if Merrill would acquire other retail brokerages, Gorman said the firm is a “prime candidate” for such acquisitions. Not surprisingly, Gorman didn’t reveal much of anything. What about the rumored talks of a swap between Citigroup and Legg Mason? He said the firm will consider all kinds of opportunities. According to news reports last week, Citigroup is considering trading its asset management business for Legg Mason’s retail brokers. Neither firm confirmed the talks. Throughout 2004, similar talks were rumored to be taking place between Merrill and Legg. Again these were never confirmed.
Before being assigned to his new post, Gorman was president of Merrill’s Global Private Client group for two years, and he headed the U.S. Private Client business for two years before that. He was responsible for implementing Total Merrill at the firm, a branding program that allows clients to establish lines of credit, term loans and letters of credit.