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Opinion

Jeff Peek: Peek-a-boo-hoo

In times of crisis, maintaining stability is crucial. Not at Merrill Lynch, it seems. Two weeks after the attacks on the World Trade Centre which forced Merrill to evacuate its headquarters for the foreseeable future, the new regime has seen fit to dispose of Jeff Peek, president of Merrill Lynch Investment Managers.

       
Jeff Peek

It's being presented as a resignation, but it is clear there was no place for Peek after he lost out to Stan O'Neal in the race to be president and COO, and thereby heir apparent to the CEO. But Merrill has been known for preferring consistency over office politics: when David Komansky was earmarked for CEO in the early 1990s, he made a point of asking his main rival, John Launny Steffens, to run the retail brokerage arm.


O'Neal gave the impression he would do the same. "I have terrific relationships with each of them, and have huge respect for them," he said of his rivals: Peek, head of investment banking Tom Davis, and head of international private client Win Smith.


That doesn't appear to have stretched to keeping them on board. O'Neal is said to have spent an hour or two with each of them after his appointment.



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