Jan. 26, 2001 Merrill Lynch is selling Herzog Heine Geduld's retail brokerage business, giving up the 50 retail producers the firm acquired when it announced it was buying HHG in June 2000.

According to Merrill spokesperson Eddie Reeves, the company's primary interest in HHG was its huge market-making operations, not the tiny retail division. Reeves says that Herzog management wanted to keep its retail brokers together. If Herzog's private client group had remained under Merrill's ownership, it probably would have been dispersed among other branch offices, Reeves says.

Merrill is selling Herzog's retail operations to Investec Ernst & Co. (www.investecernst.com), a broker/dealer headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, that says it is aggressively building a retail presence in the United States. Investec has 350 producers in the New York, Chicago and Miami areas (thanks to the Herzog acquisition).

Herzog's retail brokers in New York are going to be moved to Investec Ernst's existing Manhattan offices, according to Michael Rabinowitz, executive vice president at Investec Ernst & Co. -- Mike Hayes, Senior Editor

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