Investment: Break with Tradition

After years of being described as "We, the People," the Wall Street brokerage house of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith decided to live up fully to its nickname. Merrill Lynch had made itself the world's biggest broker—with 152 worldwide branches, 526,000 account holders and $900 million in assets. Last week, breaking the traditions of a clubby business in which firms are customarily held by only a few partners, Chairman Michael McCarthy, 60, announced Merrill Lynch's intention to sell its shares to the public if he can get the New York Stock...

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