Merrill Lynch & Co. is expanding its private banking business in the Middle East by beefing up its staff in Lebanon and opening a new office in the United Arab Emirates.

The New York-based brokerage said it planned to increase its staff in Beirut from 25 people to 40 over the next 12 months. Its Beirut office, which opened in 1962, employed 12 people at the end of 1995 and recently moved to larger accommodations.

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