European leveraged buyouts and aims to raise $1.04 billion to $2.08 billion of European private equity investments by early 2000.

Edward S. Annunziato, formerly Merrill's co-head of investment banking for Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, is directing the creation of the new private equity group, a Merrill spokesman said Monday.

The group will be based in London and have 20 employees. It is also slated to operate in Paris and Frankfurt and will likely have operations in Madrid and Milan.

With the money it raises from institutional clients such as pension funds, the group will fund European corporate takeovers, the spokesman said. It will focus on emerging industries, he said.

The $325 billion-asset investment bank closed a European private equity practice, Merrill Lynch Capital Partners, in 1992. In the last few years it has been building its investment banking presence in Europe. It is now the third-ranked European-mergers and acquisitions advisor behind Goldman, Sachs & Co., and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter.

-- Laura Mandaro

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