Can Jeff Peek ride his elephant to Merrill’s top job?

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Merrill Lynch Investment Managers has been turned around from a poorly organized, underperforming, insular group overly focused on value investing and distribution to US retail. Now its performance looks strong, and it has a better balance of customers and investment styles. Even its acquisition of the troubled Mercury Asset Management seems finally to be paying dividends. Much of the credit goes to Jeff Peek, who took over in December 1997, bringing a breath of fresh air and a slew of judicious hires. He’s done so well that he’s in the running to head Merrill Lynch one day.