Merrill Lynch has laid off two junk salesmen: Jeff Keith, a director, and Gregory Froehlich, a v.p., according to several buy-side and sell-side high-yield executives who spoke with them. Keith declined comment, other than to say he is currently looking for a new job. Froehlich could not be reached.
Keith is well-regarded by high-yield salesmen at other sell-side firms, as well as portfolio managers with whom he worked. They say he was the top salesman for a number of his accounts, which included some of the largest high-yield money managers in the business, including Capital Research & Management Company in Los Angeles and AIM Capital Management in Houston. A portfolio manager at one junk shop says that though Keith was smart and knew the market, her firm did fairly little trading business with Merrill because Merrill had not made the capital commitment to its high-yield trading effort. The portfolio manager estimates that Keith was at Merrill for roughly two years, prior to which time he worked at Salomon Smith Barney.
Keith and Froelich reported to John Shaffer, Merrill's head of high-yield and high-grade sales. Shaffer referred calls to Merrill spokeswoman Jessica Oppenheim, who declined comment.