Merrill Lynch Says CEO Will Retire Immediately

Merrill Lynch says Chief Executive Stan O'Neal will retire, effective immediately.

O'Neal had been under fire since the world's largest brokerage
announced a 2.2 billion dollar loss as big bets on mortgage-backed
securities were rendered almost worthless because of a global credit squeeze.

Questions were also raised after the 56-year-old O'Neal initiated talks about a possible merger with Charlotte-based Wachovia. Reports say that deal could have given O'Neal a 250 million dollar separation package if he wasn't chosen to lead the new company.

Merrill Lynch named Albert Cribiore as interim, nonexecutive chairman.
O'Neal was known for shaking up top management and putting a
greater emphasis on risker bets rather than the safety of just selling stocks.