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Komansky calls time

David Komansky

David Komansky, Merrill Lynch's chairman and chief executive, has confirmed what many market commentators, and Merrill employees, have been expecting for months: he plans to step down as CEO before his official retirement date of April 2004. He does intend to stay on as chairman until that time.

Komansky, CEO since 1995, gave no details of exactly when he will decide to step down as CEO, but insiders speculate that the firm's AGM in April might provide a suitable platform for an official announcement.

Speculation about Komansky's future has been rife since he announced the appointment of Stan O'Neal as president and COO. Almost immediately, say insiders, Komansky started taking a back seat, allowing O'Neal to restructure the firm as he saw fit. The firm has 15,000 fewer employees than it did at the start of 2001, has lost several key executives, senior bankers and portfolio managers, and has sold or closed several overseas businesses set up during Komansky's reign.

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