E. Stanley O?Neal, 49, will fill the role, working closely with Chief Executive David Komansky to direct the group?s worldwide operations, and is a likely successor to the top job once Komansky retires in 2004 at age 65.
O’Neal is the highest ranking black executive at a Wall Street securities firm.
O?Neal, who joined Merrill in 1986, has held a number of positions at the firm. He was CFO from March 1998, before taking over as head of the private client or brokerage group. He has also run its high-yield business and capital markets group.
O?Neal has steered Merrill?s 15,000-strong US broker force since February 2000 and will remain in the role until a replacement can be found.
The president and chief operating officer job had been vacant since 1999, when Herbert M. Allison retired.