Bank of America drops Merrill Lynch from its investment banking brand

Bank of America acquired Merrill Lynch a decade ago during the financial crisis. Now it’s rebranding.
(Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)

Bank of America Corp. will drop the Merrill Lynch name from its investment bank brand, while keeping the Merrill name for wealth management.

The investment bank is to be called BofA Securities, and the U.S. Trust name will be dropped from the private bank, Bank of America announced Monday.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based banking giant acquired Merrill Lynch, known for its “thundering herd” of brokers pitching stocks to Main Street, a decade ago in the depths of the financial crisis. It took steps to dissolve the Merrill legal entity in 2013 while keeping the brand across retail and institutional businesses.

The moves are part of a campaign rolled out last year with an ad featuring Chief Executive Brian Moynihan, who took the helm in 2010 after Kenneth Lewis stepped down. The bank posted a record net income of $28.1 billion for 2018, and it’s remaking its image as it moves on from crisis-era legacies including federal bailouts, regulatory investigations and investor lawsuits.


Bank of America was built up through a series of deals, including a 2004 merger with FleetBoston Financial Corp., where Moynihan was an executive. In 2008, it acquired subprime lender Countrywide Financial Corp. and later Merrill Lynch. As the crisis escalated, Bank of America got $45 billion from the U.S. government, which it later repaid.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett — whose Berkshire Hathaway Inc. owns about 9.5% of the bank — said financial stocks are a good investment, specifically praising Bank of America’s chief in an interview with CNBC on Monday.

“Brian Moynihan has done such a good job running that company since he took over — he was the most underestimated bank executive in the country,” Buffett said. “Everything he’s said he would do, he’s done it, and he’s beat it. He sets tougher targets for himself all the time, and he’s been smart about repurchasing shares.”

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