buy the specialist arm of Merrill Lynch & Co. for an undisclosed sum. Observers said the unit, which employs 60 people, would go for about $150 million. Fleet said it plans to add the market maker to JJC Specialist Corp., which is part of its Quick & Reilly discount brokerage subsidiary. All of the employees would be retained, the company said. The deal is expected to close by yearend, according to a Quick & Reilly spokesman. Last February, Fleet became the only bank to own a New York Stock Exchange specialist firm when it bought Quick & Reilly for $1.6 billion. Specialists are responsible for maintaining stable markets in stocks assigned to them by the Exchange. With the acquisition of Merrill Lynch Specialists, JJC would be responsible for 476 securities, representing 333 companies, the Quick & Reilly spokesman said.

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