CIBC announced that it has reached an agreement with Merrill Lynch Canada to acquire Merrill’s Canadian retail brokerage, asset management and securities services businesses, for its CIBC Wood Gundy unit. The acquisition price is between $475-$650 million, but the final purchase price is expected to be between $500-$600, according to CIBC.

The brokerage and securities services part of the deal is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, CIBC said. The asset management transaction, which includes the sale of Merrill Lynch Investment Managers Canada, manager of 41 Merrill Lynch mutual funds, is expected to be completed by Jan. 31 2002. The transaction is pending regulatory approval.

The combined entity, which will operate under the CIBC Wood Gundy name, will have more than $85 billion in assets under management with a retail sales force of more than 1,600 financial consultants. That makes the gives the firm one of the largest networks of financial consultants of any private client brokerage organization, according to John Hunkin, CEO of CIBC.

"This transaction aligns with our strategic focus to build our CIBC Wealth Management advisory sales force capabilities," said Gerry McCaughey, senior executive VP of CIBC Wealth Management. "

The acquisition is also beneficial because it helps CIBC in its endeavor to expand advisory advice offer, with a focus on asset management and insurance, McCaughey said.

Tom Monahan, the current head of CIBC Wood Gundy, will lead the new unit. An integrated executive team from CIBC Wood Gundy and Merrill Lynch Canada will be put in place to oversee the integration of the businesses, according to CIBC.

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