MERRILL LYNCH $8 BILLION SENIOR DEBT RAISED TO
MERRILL LYNCH $8 BILLION SENIOR DEBT RAISED TO A+' BY FITCH
-- FITCH FINANCIAL WIRE --
NEW YORK, Nov. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Merrill Lynch & Co.'s senior debt is upgraded to "A+" from "A" and its commercial paper rating raised to "F-1+" from "F-1" by Fitch.
Merrill Lynch has approximately $8 billion of senior debt and $7 billion of commercial paper outstanding. Subordinated debt is raised to "A" from "A-" and $300 million "A-" preferred stock is affirmed. Merrill Lynch & Co. Canada, Ltd.'s commercial paper is also raised to "F-1+."
The ratings reflect Merrill Lynch's improved profitability and higher net income, fueled by strong market conditions, continued improvement in overhead expense control, and enhanced asset quality through better risk controls. The credit trend is stable.
Net income for 1991's first nine months was $525 million, greater than any full year's earnings in the company's history. Strong earnings performance was represented across all Merrill Lynch's core businesses including investment banking, principal trading, commissions, and asset management. Merrill Lynch's market dominance and strength in underwriting new bond and stock issues helped surge investment banking revenue. Commissions and asset management fees forged ahead as retail investors returned to the stock and mutual fund markets to counteract depressed bank instrument yields. Assets in private client accounts are currently in excess of $400 billion. Important to the upgrade is the lowered breakeven point and better cost controls which mean that Merrill Lynch should be more consistently profitable in varying market environments.
Double leverage at the parent company has been reduced and the company has increased its long-term liabilities by more than $1 billion since December 1990 to reduce its reliance on the commercial paper market.
In addition to its liquid balance sheet, Merrill Lynch has significant backup liquidity with $4.5 billion in committed bank facilities and more than $6 billion in unencumbered collateral that could be used to secure short term debt.
The company has improved its overall risk management and has a strong capital discipline within all of its businesses. The corporate structure has evolved into a more client-oriented approach, which should improve client coverage within each of its diverse businesses.
/CONTACT: Nancy E. Stroker, 212-908-0533, or Teri L. Seelig, 212-908-0500, both of Fitch/
(MER) CO: Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. ST: New York IN: FIN SU: RTG GK -- NY021 -- 2534 11/08/91 10:38 EST