Bloomberg news

LONDON - Merrill Lynch HSBC Ltd., a newly formed banking and brokerage firm in London, has named Margaret Barrett, a bank executive in Canada, as chief executive.

The U.S.-born Ms. Barrett is head of Bank of Montreal's mortgage unit and one of the bank's top-ranking women executives.

Ms. Barrett will assume her new role on Jan. 1 and will be based in London.

Merrill Lynch & Co. and HSBC Holdings PLC pooled their resources to create Merrill Lynch HSBC to compete in the online discount brokerage market. The joint venture, which was formed in April, was introduced in Canada this week. Merrill Lynch HSBC will open in Australia on Dec. 18 and there are plans to go live in Britain by the end of the first quarter of 2001.

Bank of Montreal has not yet named a successor to Ms. Barrett, a spokesman said.

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