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Bank of America Drops Merrill Lynch From Its Investment Banking Brand

Bank of America Corp. will drop Merrill Lynch from its investment-bank brand, while keeping the name Merrill for wealth management.

The investment bank is to be called BofA Securities and the U.S. Trust name will be dropped from the private bank, Charlotte, North Carolina-based BofA said Monday in a statement.

Bank of America acquired Merrill Lynch, known for its “thundering herd” of brokers pitching stocks to Main Street, in the depths of the financial crisis. The firm took steps to dissolve the Merrill legal entity in 2013 while keeping the brand across retail and institutional businesses.

Key changes

BofA Securities will be the name of the institutional broker-dealer, including global markets, investment banking and capital markets Merrill will be the brand for the investing and wealth-management unit U.S. Trust will be renamed Bank of America Private BankThe moves are part of a campaign rolled out last year with an ad by Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan, who took the helm in 2010 after Kenneth Lewis stepped down. The bank posted a record net income of $28.1 billion for 2018, and is remaking its image as it moves on from crisis-era legacies including federal bailouts, regulatory probes and investor lawsuits.

Bank of America was built up through a series of deals, including a 2004 merger with FleetBoston Financial Corp., where Moynihan was an executive. In 2008, it acquired subprime lender Countrywide Financial Corp. and later Merrill Lynch. As the crisis escalated, the lender obtained $45 billion from the U.S. government, which it later repaid.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway Inc. owns about 9.5 percent of the bank, said financial stocks are a good investment, specifically praising Bank of America’s chief in an interview with CNBC Monday.

“Brian Moynihan has done such a good job running that company since he took over — he was the most underestimated bank executive in the country,” Buffett said. “Everything he’s said he would do, he’s done it, and he’s beat it. He sets tougher targets for himself all the time and he’s been smart about repurchasing shares.”