Bank of America ditching Merrill Lynch, U.S. Trust brands

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

The Charlotte, N.C.-based lender will refer to its investment bank as BofA Securities and drop the U.S. Trust name from its private bank, the company said Monday in a statement.

Bank of America acquired Merrill Lynch, known for its “thundering herd” of brokers pitching stocks to Main Street, in the depths of the financial crisis. The firm took steps to dissolve the Merrill legal entity in 2013, but had kept the brand name across retail and institutional businesses.

Here are the key changes:

BofA Securities will be the name for the bank’s institutional broker-dealer businesses, including its global markets, investment banking and capital markets divisions. Merrill will be the brand for the bank’s investing and wealth management unit and U.S. Trust will be renamed Bank of America Private Bank.

The moves are part of a campaign rolled out last year with an ad by 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 in 2018, and is remaking its image as it moves on from crisis-era legacies, including the acquisitions of Merrill Lynch and the subprime lender Countrywide Financial.

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 Monday with CNBC.

“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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