Merrill Lynch & Co., the 99-year-old firm known for its “thundering herd” of brokers pitching stocks to Main Street, may cease to exist as a legal entity more than four years after being acquired by Bank of America Corp.

While Bank of America will keep the Merrill Lynch brand for its retail brokerage and investment bank, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company plans to dissolve the subsidiary as early as the fourth quarter, according to an Aug. 2 filing. The firm will assume all of Merrill Lynch’s obligations and debt.

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