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08 Jan 2002
MOODY'S AFFIRMS RATINGS OF MERRILL LYNCH & CO., INC. FOLLOWING ANNOUNCEMENT OF SPECIAL CHARGES; RATING OUTLOOK REMAINS NEGATIVE
New York, January 08, 2002 -- Moody's Investors Service affirmed the ratings of Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. (senior unsecured debt at Aa3) following the announcement of special charges in the fourth quarter. The rating outook on all long-term ratings remains negative. All short-term ratings of Prime-1 were also affirmed.
According to Moody's, Merrill Lynch retains strong franchises in high net worth brokerage, investment banking and institutional trading, and asset management. Management is now reengineering each of these businesses to adjust scale and improve future core profitability. These actions should improve pre-tax margins, thereby mitigating the effect of the special charges, and improving debt-service coverage in the future. For the full year 2001, the company will still generate an operating profit and tangible equity will increase, even after these charges.
Moody's noted that each of Merrill Lynch's businesses is at different stages in the reengineering process. Substantial progress has already been made in U.S. private client operations and should result in better profitability as market volumes and levels recover. By contrast, the full benefits of reengineering have yet to be realized within Merrill Lynch's international private client business, the corporate and institutional client group, and the asset management group.
The accelerated pace of this action plan, while clearly necessary in the current environment, increases the overall execution risk. It is possible that deep and accelerated cost reductions may damage long-term revenue generation capacity in some instances, the rating agency cautioned. Moody's said that improved profitability and reduced earnings volatility, relative to comparably rated peers, will be important considerations in maintaining the Aa3 rating and removing the negative outlook.
Moody's also noted that Merrill Lynch's improved liquidity position and controlled appetite for trading and credit risk remain very important positive factors supporting the Aa3 rating.
The following ratings were affirmed:
Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. - the senior unsecured debt rating at Aa3; the subordinated MTN rating at A1; the preferred stock rating at A2; the rating on the preferred shelf at (P)A2; and the issuer rating at Aa3.
Various Merrill Lynch Preferred Funding LPs (I through VI) - the rating on the preferred stock at A1.
Various Merrill Lynch Preferred Capital Trusts (I through VI) - the rating on the preferred shelf at (P)A1.
Merrill Lynch Canada Finance Company - the senior unsecured rating at Aa3.
Merrill Lynch Finance (Australia) Pty Limited - the senior unsecured rating at Aa3.
Merrill Lynch International (Australia) Ltd. - the senior unsecured rating at Aaa.
Merrill Lynch International & Co. C.V. - the senior unsecured rating at Aa3.
Merrill Lynch S.A. - the senior unsecured rating at Aa3.
The following Prime-1 ratings were affirmed:
Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. - the Prime-1 rating for commercial paper.
Merrill Lynch Japan Incorporated - the Prime-1 rating for short-term obligations.
Merrill Lynch & Co., Canada Ltd. - the Prime-1 rating for short-term debt rating.
Merrill Lynch Canada Finance Company -- the Prime-1 rating for short-term debt rating.
Merrill Lynch International (Australia) Ltd. - the Prime-1 rating for commercial paper.
Merrill Lynch Finance (Australia) Pty Limited - the Prime-1 rating for commercial paper.
Merrill Lynch S.A. - the Prime-1 rating for commercial paper.
Merrill Lynch is headquartered in New York and is one of the world's leading securities and wealth management firms. Through the first nine months of 2001, Merrill Lynch earned $1.8 billion, and had a capital base exceeding $103 billion.
No Related Data.
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