Johnson leaves Merrill Lynch

The bank's chairman of global leveraged finance leaves amid a reshuffling of senior managment.

Chris Johnson, chairman of global leveraged finance at Merrill Lynch in New York, has left the firm.

Johnson was on the bank's global leveraged finance committee with Jack Yang, global head of leveraged finance, and Richard Saltzman and Keith Horn. Yang continues to head leveraged finance overall.

Merrill Lynch has won a number of mandates in the leveraged finance capital markets business this year, especially in Europe where the bank arranged the multi-billion euro financing behind Yell's £2.14bn buyout from BT.

The bank was also involved in the buyout of the Le Meridien chain of upmarket hotels on behalf of Nomura International's Principal Finance Group, jointly arranging alongside CIBC, a leveraged loan package worth £2.4bn.

Johnson's action fuels rumours that a radical shake-up of Merrill Lynch's senior management is under way. Just last month, Thomas Davis moved from his position of head of investment banking to manage the group's private equity division.