Merrill Taps Bear Banker As Mideast Head

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Merrill Lynch hired a top Bear Stearns investment banker, Fares D. Noujaim, as leader of the Middle East and sovereign wealth funds businesses.

Noujaim was named both global head of sovereign wealth funds and president of Merrill's Middle East and North Africa business. He'll divide his time between the Middle East and New York, and he will report to Gregory J. Fleming, president and chief operating officer of Merrill Lynch.

The announcement is the latest in a string of senior Middle East appointments by bulge-bracket institutions. Lehman Brothers named a new chief executive officer for the Middle East and North Africa in May, and named a different individual as global head of sovereign wealth funds in April.

Noujaim was with Bear Stearns for more than 20 years, and was global head of the bank's capital markets group and vice chairman of the board of directors. During that time he advised on more than $300 billion of M&A deals, including Thomson's recent $17 billion acquisition of Reuters, and facilitated more than $1 trillion of financings, Merrill said. Before joining Bear, he was an analyst with Goldman Sachs from 1985 to 1987.