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Merrill Lynch discloses 9,000 job cuts in bid to improve profits

NEW YORK (AP) _ Merrill Lynch & Co., the nation's biggest brokerage firm, said Wednesday it has cut 9,000 jobs, or nearly 14 percent of its work force, as part of a plan to cut costs by $1.4 billion a year and boost profitability.

David H. Komansky, chairman and chief executive, said the cuts would make the company ``leaner, more competitive, more focused than ever on serving clients in our chosen markets around the world.''

The cuts and other changes would result in a pre-tax charge of $2.2 billion against earnings in the recently completed fourth quarter, the company said.

With the latest cuts, Merrill has reduced its work force by 21 percent since the start of 2001, ending the year with 57,000 employees, down from 72,000. Half the new cuts are from divestitures and discontinued business and half through voluntary separations.

Merrill Lynch also forecast that its earnings before charges would be between 48 cents and 50 cents a share for the fourth quarter, meeting analysts' expectations, and that revenues would be 8 percent below what it reported for the third quarter of 2001.

Other components of the charge being taken include consolidating private client offices in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Australia and writedowns of certain technology assets.

About 1,200 of the jobs cut are from the company's Japanese unit, Merrill Lynch Japan Securities Co., and all the affected employees outside Japan have been informed, Merrill officials said. They said most cuts had already occurred.
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