Merrill Lynch CEO to step down on Monday


Stan O’Neal, CEO of Merrill Lynch, is said to be stepping down on Monday. He is not going willingly, however. The board of directors was meeting this weekend to discuss candidates for the postition.

O’Neal’s departure comes following an $8.4 billion writedown in the third quarter, with most of that related to mortgage-related assets.

Up to this point, O’Neal appeared to have done a good job at Merrill Lynch, boosting the company’s profitability and expanding its international reach. But former colleagues now say that his weakness was firing many longtime employees in his early days at Merrill Lynch. His independence and unwillingness to listen to contrary views may have led to the lack of support he now has from the board of directors.

Adding to the criticism was O’Neal’s discussion with Wachovia Corp. CEO G. Kennedy Thompson. O’Neal asked him if they would be interested in buying Merrill Lynch, but he had no authority to even have that conversation.

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