Merrill Lynch has merged its global Strategic Solutions Group (SSG), a specialized group responsible for structuring and marketing derivatives-based transactions, into its derivatives sales division. Doug DeMartin, head of global credit products in New York and to whom the sales side reported, will head the new group.
As part of the reorg Merrill has eliminated the role of Keith Jacobson, managing director and head of the strategic solutions group in New York, but has not assigned him to another position, according to officials familiar with the situation. Jacobson reported to DeMartin. Ricus Van Der Lee, managing director in SSG, who had reported to Jacobson, has left the firm. DeMartin and Jacobson did not return calls. Michael DuVally, spokesman in New York, would only say that Jacobson continues to be employed within the firm's debt division.
Headhunters said Jacobson is a well-respected Merrill old hand and guru of various derivatives markets and predicted the firm would try to find him another acceptable position. However, one headhunter said Merrill is cutting back senior management in an attempt to reduce costs and Jacobson could be a victim of this move.
The reorganization is a move toward a more product-orientated organization, rather than the client-orientated one SSG had traditionally operated, according to the official. The firm considers that driving products to end users will be a more effective means to penetrate the market and gain market share, he noted.
DuVally said the credit product sales group is organized along product lines as well as industry lines. The recent integration of SSG into the overall sales group reinforces the firm's goal of making the entire sales group more product orientated, he added. DuVally denied the integration was in any way motivated by attempts by the firm to lower its profile in the exotics business after the sector has taken a bashing in the wake of the Enron debacle. SSG offered tailored products to clients, with the firm's sales group traditionally focusing on plain-vanilla instruments.