Merrill Lynch said Michael Marks, chairman of its operations in Europe, Middle East and Africa, is retiring after seven years with the company. Paul Roy, co-president of Merrill's global markets and investment banking division, will also step down from his post to spend more time with his family and pursue a separate business interest

Marks, 60, and Roy, 55, came to Merrill when it acquired British stock brokerage Smith New Court in 1995, where they served as executive vice chairman and chief executive, respectively. During their tenures, they have held several senior leadership positions and served on Merrill's Executive Management Committee. Marks joined Merrill as the co-head of the global equities business and became chief operating officer of Merrill Lynch Europe and was subsequently named executive chairman.

"I have decided that with a new executive management team in place, which is demonstrating impressive performance and results, the time is right for me to retire," Marks said in a statement. "After over 40 years in the industry, I now look forward to pursuing other personal and professional interests, including possibly a new venture of my own."

Roy headed the European equities division from 1995 to 1998, then served as head of global equities from 1998 to 2001. During that time frame, Merrill built a leadership position in global equity research, underwriting, sales, trading and derivatives, becoming arguably the most powerful firm on Wall Street.

Over the last year, Merrill has been hit hard by a massive slowdown in the financial services industry and a high-profile conflict-of-interest investigation conducted by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. The announcement is the latest in a series of top-level management moves being carried out under chief executive Stan O'Neal.

The shares traded up 39 cents, or 1%, to $41.36 on the New York Stock Exchange.