Stilwell May Be Looking at Merrill's L.A. Unit

Stilwell Financial is rumored to be in talks to buy Merrill Lynch & Co.'s Los Angeles-based money management arm formerly known as Hotchkis & Wiley, according to the Web site InvestorForce.com.

Meanwhile, the L.A. unit's former portfolio management team headed by Sarah Ketterer, which ran the Mercury HW International Value Fund before defecting from Merrill last week, has set up shop in West Los Angeles as Causeway Capital Management.

Kansas City, Mo.-based Stilwell, parent of the Denver-based Janus Funds unit, and New York-based Merrill declined to comment on whether they're in talks.

Merrill bought Hotchkis & Wiley in 1996. The unit recently managed about $10 billion in assets.

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