NEW YORK -Merrill Lynch & Co. announced Wednesday that it had elected Joseph W. Prueher, a former U.S. ambassador to China, to its board of directors.

Mr. Prueher, 58, was U.S. ambassador to the People's Republic of China from November 1999 to May 2001. His diplomatic post followed a 35-year career in the Navy, where he was an admiral and served for three years as commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command.

A Merrill spokesman said Mr. Prueher is not succeeding anyone, since the company simply reduces the number of board members when someone retires.

E. Stanley O'Neal, who on Tuesday was named Merrill's president and chief operating officer and is widely expected to be its next chief executive, was also elected to the board.

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