Merrill Lynch’s Hedge Fund Head Departs

May 22 2007 | 9:12pm ET

Ben Weston, chief of Merrill Lynch & Co.'s hedge-fund development and management group, has reportedly left the firm, effective immediately. Bloomberg News is reporting that Rohit D'Souza, global head of the stock-trading and alternative-investments unit, and Mac Gardner, head of the U.S. private client division, sent a letter to employees today stating that Weston is departing.

Spokesmen at Merrill Lynch could not immediately be reached to confirm the news.

Weston joined Merrill Lynch from Credit Suisse First Boston in March 2005 to lead Merrill’s hedge fund efforts. Since then the firm has been consolidating its hedge fund and alternative investment practices, and has also snapped up stakes in various alternative investment firms.

On Monday, Merrill Lynch revealed that is buying a minority stake in GSO Capital Partners and will invest in a number of its strategies. The New York-based hedge fund focuses on such strategies as leveraged loans, distressed investments, special situations, capital structure arbitrage, mezzanine securities and private equity, and manages roughly $8 billion.

“The investment in GSO is a continuation of our strategy to invest in best-in-class alternative investment managers worldwide,” said D’Souza.

Meanwhile, last week Dow Kim, co-president of global markets and investment banking, said that he is leaving the firm by the end of the year to set up a multi-strategy hedge fund shop. Merrill Lynch, which characterized the split as amicable in a statement, notes that Kim will remain an adviser during the transition and that the firm will invest in Kim’s new venture. Kim declined to comment on the move.

According to today’s memo from D’Souza, employees who reported to Weston will now report to him until a replacement is made.

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