Report: Merrill scales back in Australia

The private equity arm of Merrill Lynch has reportedly reduced its Australian private equity team.

Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity, the private equity arm of the banking major, has laid off “many” of the members of its Australian team, according to Australia’s Financial Standard.

Merrill’s Australian private equity division, which is based in Sydney, is being scaled down and a number of its employees have been asked to leave, sources told the newspaper.

A spokeswoman for the bank declined to comment on the report. She also declined to comment on whether Brian Renaud, managing director and head of Australian operations at the private equity group, is still continuing in his role. Renaud, who joined the bank in 1990, has been a part of its private equity businesses since 1995.

The group generally invests between $250 million and $750 million in businesses globally, with a focus on the US, Europe, Japan, China, India, Latin America and Australia.

Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity employs a team of 68 professionals across offices in New York, London, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Mumbai and Sydney.

There has been a considerable shake out in the Australian private equity in recent months. In August last year, Tasman Capital Partners was formed through a management buyout of Nikko Principal Investments Australia. In November, Allco Equity Partners terminated its management agreement with parent affiliate Allco Finance Group, which went into receivership. In the same month, Hastings Private Equity, the private equity arm of Hastings Fund Management, disclosed plans to separate from its parent to establish Mainridge Capital, an independent private equity firm.