Merrill Lynch's new CEO John Thain told employees this week that if he could sell its subprime division, First Franklin Financial Corp., for what the company paid for it a year ago he would do it in an instant, one FFFC employee has told MortgageWire. The FFFC employee, requesting anonymity, said the Merrill-owned unit has seen its loan production just about dry up. Mr. Thain held a conference call with Merrill employees -- including FFFC workers -- this past week. As reported by National Mortgage News, Merrill has considered selling FFFC, but the market for nondepository subprime wholesalers is virtually nonexistent. (Merrill paid $1.3 billion for the lender and two affiliates last February.) The FFFC employee said that during the conference call, one worker told Mr. Thain that all the lender's account executives are "starving" because few loans are getting funded. At deadline time, a Merrill spokesman had not responded to a telephone call and e-mail message about the intra-company conference call.

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