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Merrill Bond Analysts Move On

Burnell leaves the firm, while Zinser moves to a new division.

Two senior analysts have left

Merrill Lynch's


fixed-income research team, just as the Wall Street brokerage sealed a deal to merge its mutual fund unit with bond-fund titan


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Brian Zinser and Matthew Burnell, both directors in the fixed-income research group, left the group this week, according to people familiar with the situation. Zinser, who covered fixed-income products in the auto supply, aerospace and defense sectors, and was a member of

Institutional Investor's

All-American research team in 2003, moved to a position within Merrill's Global Wealth Strategy Group. Burnell, who covered banks, brokers, and other financial businesses, left the firm.

Both researchers issued reports as recently as January. Neither was available for comment. Representatives from Merrill Lynch were unavailable for comment.

The departures are not believed to be directly related to Merrill Lynch's acquisition of BlackRock. Rather, changes in the fixed-income industry over the past year were the catalyst.

"There is a general, slight downsizing to come in the fixed-income sectors at all Street firms," said one senior trader on Wall Street. The advent of the credit default swaps market, for one thing, is causing a reordering of priorities in bond research, and will lead to staffing changes. Advances in computer systems that allow for online or voiceless trading also will lead to reshufflings. Sales, trading and research will all be affected, he said.

The moves come just two days after Merrill Lynch's CEO Stan O'Neal announced the largest acquisition since his tenure at the firm, a merger with bond fund manager BlackRock. Bob Doll said in an interview with

on Wednesday that the next order of business is to come up with a transition plan on how best to put the business together.

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