Merrill Lynch lays off staff in Asia Pacific

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Merrill Lynch sacked 25 people in its Asian business last week and is to continue laying off staff despite concluding its voluntary redundancy programme last Friday, according to sources close to the bank.

Insiders said job losses are being concentrated in investment banking, equities and the private clients group. Following the departure of leveraged finance chairman Chris Johnson last week, more departures are expected in that business.

Merrill, which employs 65,000 people, received 2,600 acceptances for the redundancy programme. But it is understood to be disappointed that the take-up of the voluntary programme was not as widespread as it has hoped. Henry Blodget, the internet analyst, was among the highest profile employees who has left. The severance programme allowed employees to receive up to 54 weeks' pay. They were offered 12 weeks' salary and a lump sum of three weeks pay for every year of service over four years, to a maximum of 42 weeks, plus a payment equal to 40% of their performance bonus in 2000. A Merrill Lynch spokesman declined to comment on either the voluntary severance programme or new job losses.

Merrill last week promoted Check Lo, head of equities in the Asia Pacific region, to co-chairman of the corporate and institutional client group for the region, alongside Raymond Lu.

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