Merrill May Be Close to Selling Bloomberg Stake: Report

Merrill Lynch may sell its 20 percent stake in financial news and data provider Bloomberg to a blind trust controlled by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, The New York Post reported Friday.

The possiblity of Merrill selling the stake in Bloomberg was first reported by CNBC.

Details about the terms of a sale remain sketchy, the Post said, and sources warned that a deal could still fall apart.

The sale is part of a broader plan by cash-strapped Merrill to raise about $50 billion through various asset sales, the Post said, citing bankers who have looked at marketing materials.

Merrill in 1981 provided seed money for Bloomberg to launch the business.

Analysts have valued Merrill's stake at between $5 billion and $10 billion, the Post said.

Last month, John Thain, Merrill's chief executive hinted to Wall Street that his firm might sell one of its more treasured assets following a deterioration in the value of its balance sheet from mortgage-related losses, the Post said.

A Merrill representative could not be reached for immediate comment.

Michael Bloomberg, who became New York's mayor in January 2002, retains a majority stake in the company, but has said he has given up day-to-day control.