Merrill Taps NYSE's Chai as New Finance Chief

Merrill Lynch named NYSE EuronextChief Financial Officer Nelson Chai as the investment bank's new CFO, replacing Jeffrey Edwards, effective Dec. 10.

John Thain
John Thain

The appointment is the latest step in Chai's rapid rise through Wall Street's ranks, and it represents the latest management change prompted by the ongoing subprime mortgage meltdown.

Chai, 42, will be reunited with former New York Stock Exchange Chief Executive John Thain, who was named Merrill CEO last month. Thain, a former Goldman Sachs co-president, took over Merrill , the third-largest U.S. securities firm, after billions of mortgage and credit losses led to the ouster of former Merrill chief Stanley O'Neal.

"This is normally what you would expect ... that Thain would bring some people that he's worked with over to join him," said Jim Huguet, co-CEO of investment management firm Great Companies LLC. "If I'm CEO, if there's someone I can trust, that may be as important as having all the skills and experience of running an operation like that."

In January 2006, Chai became CFO of the NYSE . He was the chief numbers cruncher for Archipelago Holdings, the electronic stock trading network acquired by the NYSE, from 2000 to 2005.

Separately, NYSE Euronext said deputy CFO Joost van der Does de Willebois will become acting CFO on Dec. 10. Van der Does de Willebois has also headed NYSE Euronext's Amsterdam market.

Bruno Colmant, current head of NYSE Euronext's European affairs and head of its Belgian market, will become deputy CFO, the company said.

Edwards joins a growing list of Wall Street executives who have lost their jobs as investment banks reported massive write-downs and trading losses triggered by the plunging value of mortgage securities and riskier corporate loans.

Edwards reportedly offered to resign in late October after the country's largest retail brokerage reported more than $8 billion in third quarter write offs.