Merrill is now the wealth management division of Bank of America. Until the 2008 financial crisis, Merrill Lynch was widely regarded as one of the world's most prestigious financial management companies but it was undone by its investment in high-risk property derivatives. Unlike many of its competitors, while it had continued to offer share brokerage services to ordinary consumers, Merrill Lynch resisted the temptation to diversify into the mainstream of retail banking in the early 2000s, specializing instead in the corporate and institutional market as an investment bank and asset manager. It was a leading global underwriter of debt and equity securities and a strategic advisor to corporations, governments, institutions and high net worth individuals. In one of its biggest ever deals it merged its investment management division in 2006 into fixed income specialist BlackRock to create a greatly enlarged giant with combined assets of around $1 trillion. Merrill ended up with just under 50% of the enlarged business. However, in 2007 and 2008, the bank was forced to report the worst financial results in its long history as a result of disastrous speculation in subprime debt. Merrill hoped to put its troubles behind it by ousting its CEO and writing off billions of dollars of assets. But as the credit crisis continued to build, it was forced to surrender its independence in order to avoid bankruptcy. It was acquired by the more broadly based Bank of America for $50bn, and was absorbed into that business over the course of 2009. In 2011, BlackRock bought out Bank of America Merrill Lynch's remaining stake in itself. The Merrill Lynch brand has been used since then for BofA's commercial and wealth management units and for retail brokerage. However the full name was phased out during 2019. Only wealth management retains part of the tag, becoming simply Merrill.
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