Morgan Stanley hires Ex-Merrill COO

Morgan Stanley last week announced it hired former Merrill Lynch & Co. President and COO Gregory Fleming to run its investment management group. He will be joining Morgan Stanley in February.

Fleming, a noted rainmaker who focused on financial companies, oversaw Merrill’s investment banking.

Fleming—one of the architects of Merrill Lynch’s sale to Bank of America Corp.—will be president of Morgan Stanley Investment Management, which includes the firm’s merchant banking business. He will also be responsible for Morgan Stanley’s global research and will report to incoming CEO James Gorman, the firm said.

Fleming left BofA after the deal closed in January and has been working as a senior research scholar at Yale University. He has been portrayed as a key proponent of the sale of Merrill Lynch at the height of last year’s financial crisis despite initial reluctance from then-Merrill CEO John Thain.

In Andrew Ross Sorkin’s book on the financial crisis, “Too Big to Fail,” Fleming was also credited with getting BofA to agree to pay Merrill bankers 2008 bonuses up to the same level as in 2007. He also got the bank to agree to an airtight “material adverse change” agreement, meaning that even if Merrill’s businesses continued to deteriorate BofA couldn’t easily back out of the deal. Both elements of the deal proved to be controversial as public outrage was sparked by news about bonuses and as figures in subsequent months showed that Merrill’s businesses were in worse shape than had been publicly acknowledged. —Michael Erman, Reuters