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-Merrill Lynch replaces South African chief.

M2 EQUITYBITES-February 24, 2012--Merrill Lynch replaces South African chief(C)2012 M2 COMMUNICATIONS http://www.m2.com

24 February 2012 - Richard Gush is the new South African head of Merrill Lynch, the investment banking unit of Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), Bloomberg reported on Thursday.

Gush will take the top role in April and will also sit on the bank's executive committee for non-Asian emerging markets, the news agency said, citing an e-mail from Bank of America's global banking and markets head.

The previous chief of Merrill Lynch's South African business, Marcus Heilner, will not leave the company, though his future role was not disclosed. Heilner was appointed South African CEO in 2006.

Gush previously led corporate and investment banking business of South Africa's top player Standard Bank (JNB:SBK), according to the e-mail from Andrea Orcel.

Gush, who is leaving Standard Bank after 17 years of service, did not answer calls to his cellphone to elaborate on the appointment.

Merrill Lynch has lagged behind global peers Deutsche Bank and Citigroup (NYSE:C) as well as domestic investment banks in leading major deals in South Africa, landing on the 19th spot with ZAR1.7bn (USD221m/EUR166m) in merger transactions in the past 12 months against ZAR20.1bn deals led by Standard Bank, the number one player with an 18% slice of the market.

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