Stanley O'Neal, executive chairman and chief executive of Merrill Lynch & Co. -- once a huge financier of subprime firms -- is expected to resign from the Wall Street firm as early as Monday.According to combined news reports, Laurence Fink of Black Rock Financial, which is 49% owned by Merrill, is being interviewed about replacing Mr. O'Neal. Back in the 1980s, while at First Boston, Mr. Fink was an important player in the mortgage-backed securities market. Merrill has long been a financier of mortgage companies but became an aggressive player in banking subprime firms when Mr. O'Neal took over the reins of the company six years ago. Merrill recently took a stunning $7.9 billion writedown on subprime and collateralized debt obligation assets in the third quarter, 75% more than it had forecast just a few weeks earlier. Merrill posted a net loss of $2.3 billion and hinted that more writedowns are to come.

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