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Investment banking: Merrill Lynch grows as UBS shrinks

Despite reporting its first annual loss in 2007 and forecasts of further credit write-downs in the first quarter, Merrill Lynch is getting out the chequebook for its Latin American business.

The firm has gone on a shopping spree and plucked the cream of the Latin American investment banking crop, especially in Brazil.

But as Merrill Lynch rides a positive wave, Swiss bank UBS faces tougher times ahead in the region, after losing several senior bankers to its US rival.

Andrea Orcel, Merrill Lynch

"We have a much longer-term view compared with the one we had eight to 10 years ago"

Andrea Orcel, Merrill Lynch

Andrea Orcel, global head of origination at Merrill Lynch, tells Euromoney that the bank is determined to emerge from the crisis engulfing the global financial markets in a strong position. "We have a much longer-term view compared with the one we had eight to 10 years ago. Global origination at Merrill Lynch is also a much more profitable and diversified franchise now than it was back then." He adds: "The combination of these factors allows us to make these investments when the opportunities arise, even in difficult markets, which may arguably be the best time to make them."

A Latin banker at a European firm says: "Merrill is making a big move, maybe it is a bit too late...