Does everyone really want to leave ML in London?

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According to a story on CNBC yesterday, Merrill Lynch is in danger of losing lots of London staff.

The crisis is such that Brian Moynihan, John Thain's successor as head of BofA's investment bank, is said to be in the City offering words of reassurance.

Are things really that bad? BofA appears to be doing its best to signal the importance of the Merrill franchise. Key ML bankers have been appointed to pivotal roles in the combined organization, and the Financial News reports today that BofA is contemplating a move out of Canary Wharf and into Merrill's London offices.

Despite this, it's said that even Andrea Orcel, head of the international investment banking business wants to leave.

The Financial Times reported that Orcel was considering his options back in February. Two senior headhunters confirm that he remains open to offers, but point out that this is surprising given his rapid ascension after Thain left.

"After Thain went, Orcel was spectacularly elevated to head the entire global investment banking business outside the US," says one.

Orcel's alleged urge to escape is said to be indicative of the culture clash between ML and BofA. "Merrill people are very demoralized at the moment and there's huge animosity with the people at Bank of America who feel Merrill's dragged them down," says the headhunter.

Even in the current market, ML investment bankers have other options. Credit Suisse, Nomura, Rothschild and Lazard are all said to be hiring, to say nothing of various boutiques.

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