Merrill Lynch & Co. dismissed five executives from its financial institutions group last week, American Banker has learned.

Among those let go was Richard Doyle, a director responsible for banks in the Southeast - including the NationsBank Corp. account - and the Middle-Atlantic states.

The layoffs come on the heels of a record-setting year for the financial institutions group, which snared such high-profile deals as NationsBank's acquisition of Bank South Corp. The executives dismissed last week were all relationship managers helping Merrill keep such business rolling in.

Over the past year, 14 executives have left the group, some involuntarily. Only six have been replaced, leaving 34 associates and directors in the New York office.

The other four executives - all members of the insurance group - who left last week were Wayne Taylor, a vice president; Peter Jachym, a director; Harvard Winters, an associate; and Robert Whitelaw, of the firm's Chicago office.

Merrill confirmed that four of the executives were dismissed, but would not comment on Mr. Whitelaw. The company would not explain the reasons, except to say that it periodically reviews its lines of businesses. Last week it announced plans to lay off 250 employees companywide.

Other Wall Street financial institutions groups appear to have avoided such layoffs this year. Indeed, Lehman Brothers said it is considering expanding its group.

Investment bankers said Merrill's team has been overstaffed and had to be trimmed. One speculated that Merrill ran up its budget by luring two insurance analysts from Salomon Brothers with million-dollar salaries, and decided to cut four of the 10 jobs in that area. As for Mr. Doyle, observers said it may have been harder for him to bring in business because several of his clients - including NationsBank - are now underwriting most of their own debt.

Both Mr. Jachym and Mr. Doyle are still at Merrill Lynch, and are reviewing options that could include offers to work elsewhere in the firm.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.