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The tarnished jewel

David Komansky

When David Komansky, chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch, bought Mercury Asset Management in 1997, he called it "the crown jewel of asset management". After years of poor performance, client defections and court cases, it's unlikely he would refer to it in such glowing terms today.

Its darkest hour came with the Unilever pension fund lawsuit. It cost Merrill - both financially and in terms of reputation.

After paying off Unilever it also paid out to Sainsbury's pension fund and, according to Merrill sources, the pain is not over yet. "There are another six or seven disaffected clients out there," says the source, who adds that Komansky was not pleased when he heard about the Unilever problems.

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