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Merrill Lynch expands Net strategy

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Although Byron Vielehr's office has been in Princeton, N.J., since he took over in February as global head of e-business for Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, his familiarity with the college town is still scant. "I've been to Europe five times in the last 100 days. I'm in airports and hotels more often than I'm in Princeton," he said.

Vielehr, 35, is charged with creating an Internet strategy for the Merrill unit, which until June 30 was called Merrill Lynch Asset Management Group. The unit manages some $600 billion in fund investments for 75% of Fortune 200 companies, 57 of the top 100 U.K. companies and half of Japan's largest companies, as well as consumers.

While the unit has considerable expertise in managing funds, it hasn't had much experience in marketing them over the Web. Vielehr intends to change all that over the next year by doubling the unit's e-commerce staff to 100 and adding Web sites that will allow corporate and consumer customers to access their accounts online. He said Merrill's ubiquitous global brand will help it pull ahead quickly.

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