Bloomberg News

NEW YORK - Merrill Lynch & Co., seeking to catch up with rivals Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in managing share sales for technology companies, plans to consolidate and expand its venture capital investments, said people at the firm.

Merrill will name Alfred Hurley, its former investment banking chief in Japan, to oversee the effort, which includes about $1.2 billion of funds spread throughout its businesses, said the sources, who declined to be named.

A 10-member investment committee has been set up, which includes Joseph Schell, head of global technology investment banking, and David Poor, co-head of tech banking for the Americas.

Even with $1.2 billion, Merrill lags the competitors with whom it is most often compared: Morgan Stanley and Goldman. Each has more than $10 billion of private equity and venture capital funds or investments.

Goldman just closed a $5.25 billion fund, the fourth GS Capital Partners fund it has raised since 1992.

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