Big-Time Analyst Joins Merrill Lynch

Media Analyst Hire Helps Stem the Outflowing Tide of TalentMerrill Lynch hired heavyweight high yield analyst Oren Cohen last week, adding one of the industry's highest-ranked analysts to its research team.

Cohen, who came over from Bear Stearns, will spearhead Merrill's high yield media research efforts as a senior analyst, and will coordinate the high yield media and telecommunications research efforts as well.

Donald Ullmann, managing director of Merrill's global fixed income research group, said that Cohen's hire is a good addition to the company, but added that it does not indicate any change in the company's research or business focus.

The media sector is an important aspect of its high yield business, he said, and that will continue to be the case.

The hire does, however, somewhat reverse the ongoing defections that plagued Merrill's high yield team throughout the past year.

Early last year, the company lost Tom Gahan, head of global leveraged finance, to Deutsche Bank Securities as managing director and global head of credit products.

In May, Richard Byrne, former head of high yield research, also left to join Deutsche Bank, and several weeks afterward, later three telecommunications pros left. Namely, Joseph Sheehan, former director, and Sean Crowley, former managing director, both went to Bear Stearns as managing directors. And Scott MacLeod, former managing director at Merrill, left to go high-profile telecom issuer Nextlink Communications as chief of business development.

Then four other pros jumped ship to Salomon Smith Barney. John Engelen, a 10-year Merrill veteran, became Salomon's managing director in high yield sales and trading.

And reporting to Engelen are three ex-Merrill employees: Edward Sutherland and John Humphrey, as senior analysts, and Jeffrey Jacob as a senior trader.