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Merrill Lynch Names Chai as New CFO

New Merrill CEO John Thain taps his former NYSE Euronext CFO to help him fix Merrill's multi-billion-dollar missteps with mortgage securities.
Stephen TaubDecember 3, 2007

Merrill Lynch & Co. Monday named Nelson Chai executive vice president and chief financial officer.

Chai has been executive vice president and CFO of NYSE Euronext and its predecessor company NYSE Group, Inc., since January 2006 and was CFO of Archipelago Holdings from 2000 to 2005. He will officially join Merrill in one week, on December 10.

Chai was recruited by John A. Thain, who was recently brought in as Merrill’s chairman and chief executive officer in the wake of the investment banking giant’s nearly $8 billion write-off of mortgage-related securities. Thain was formerly Chai’s boss at NYSE Euronext.

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“Nelson was a key advisor to me and the board of directors at NYSE,” said Thain. “He played critical roles in the Euronext and Archipelago mergers and also has been instrumental in the development and execution of our international expansion and overall growth strategy, in addition to overseeing the finance-related operations at the company.”

Chai succeeds Jeffrey N. Edwards, who has been Merrill’s CFO since 2005. Edwards, who was responsible for the firm’s market and credit risk management — including the collateralized debt obligation portfolio that accounted for much of the firm’s losses — reportedly offered to resign after CEO Stan O’Neal was ousted in October, but the board declined his offer.

Edwards previously was head of investment banking for the Americas region, where he was responsible for the firm’s origination activities for corporate, financial and sovereign clients in the United States, Canada and Latin America. The company said he will assume a new operating role at Merrill Lynch, to be announced shortly.

Prior to joining Archipelago in June 2000, Chai was senior vice president of business development and a member of the executive committee of Dade Behring, Inc., a manufacturer of medical diagnostics products.

NYSE Euronext announced that Joost van der Does de Willebois, currently deputy CFO, would serve as acting CFO, beginning December 10. He has also been head of NYSE Euronext’s Amsterdam market.

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