Bloodbath or Merger Synergies: Either Way You Slice It, Merr

by Derek Loosvelt | October 20, 2008

Merrill Lynch is back in the headlines, as its CEO John Thain (and soon-to-be investment banking, securities and wealth management head of Bank of America once his firm is folded into the North Carolina-based consumer banking giant) told Bloomberg News that thousands of Merrill jobs will be cut in IT, operations and other back-office groups. It was also revealed that to prepare for the economic downturn, Thain plans to cut an additional 500 traders. And there’s likely to be more layoffs.

According to some reports, when all is said and done and the bull has been swallowed and digested by BofA, it could be a bloodbath, with as many as 15 percent of Merrill’s staff left without jobs. Seems Merrill’s layoffs will be more severe than the firm had originally alluded to. But then again, isn’t that always the case? Though it makes sense to buy low and sell high when it comes to investments, the job cut (and write-down) rule of thumb as of late has been “sell low, announce high.”

In other tales of perception, it appears that “the world’s local bank” now has “different values.” London-based HSBC is making a significant statement to its existing (and potentially new) customers in the five boroughs by unveiling its new “different values” slogan on every inch of available ad space in the current issue of New York magazine. As for what sort of statement the bank is trying make, that’s open for interpretation. Three interpretations, HSBC hopes. In one ad, for example, overlaid on the back of a photo of a shaved head that could be a woman’s or a man’s are the words “style,” “soldier” and “survivor.” (Note: if you are a New Yorker and interested, you don’t have to buy New York to check out these Oh So Very Clever But What The Heck Do They Have To Do With Banking Or The Financial Crisis ads. Just look up when riding the train; HSBC likes them so much that they've also splattered them all over the subway.)

Filed Under: Finance


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