Job cuts loom at Merrill Lynch

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Merrill Lynch, the US investment bank, is to become the latest City of London firm to make selective staff reductions in a bid to cut costs in the face of the downturn in world equity markets.

However, in common with other investment houses, it is holding off from a massive cull. In 1994 and again in 1998 the big banks cut staff drastically and came to regret it when markets picked up.

Merrill Lynch, which employs 73,000 staff worldwide, declined to comment further, but confirmed that it has axed 80 contract information technology staff and that 29 jobs have gone in its New York office.

Sources close to the investment bank said there were no immediate plans to lay more people off and that reports that it planned to reduce staff levels by 3% were incorrect.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research has estimated that there could be up to 20,000 job losses coming in the City. Last month Credit Suisse First Boston shed 120 staff in Europe in two weeks as it began the process of integrating Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.

Last week, the investment bank was reported to be sacking 130 staff in Europe.

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