Will Merrill Sway BlackRock and Pimco?
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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Will Merrill Sway BlackRock and Pimco?

Merrill Lynch brokers have moved to sway Pimco and BlackRock into buying back auction-rate securities in an effort to accelerate client bailouts, Bloomberg reports.

According to the report, more than 300 brokers e-mailed Pimco saying that the fund firm's honchos may "no longer be welcome in our offices" unless they buy back the securities. And BlackRock, which is 49 percent owned by Merrill Lynch, received a letter from Will Fuller, who heads up distribution for Merrill Lynch's US brokerage unit, saying that BlackRock's failure to offer redemptions in the past two months has resulted in "dissatisfaction in our financial advisers and clients."

BlackRock, Nuveen Investments, Eaton Vance have redeemed or scheduled the redemption of $24.1 billion of auction-rate preferred shares. BlackRock's repurchases total $2.5 billion, but according to Fuller, the firm hasn't announced any redemptions since June 2.

In a letter sent last week to an advisory council of Merrill advisers, BlackRock president Robert Kaputo said his company hopes to announce a "proposed solution and any additional redemptions" in the next 30 to 90 days.

Meanwhile, Tammie Arnold, co-head of Pimco's product management group, said in a letter to Merrill Lynch financial adviser Erick Ellsweig that "the best we can do is to report that we will continue to work very hard to find a solution."

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