Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, a division of Merrill Lynch responsible for the firm’s proprietary mutual funds, reported pretax operating earnings for the fourth quarter of 2001 of $48 million on revenues of $489 million. Earnings for the quarter were down 61% than year earlier figures while revenues were 22% lower than in 2000.

Merrill Lynch characterized the division’s investment performance as strong in a statement reporting earnings. "However, financial results were negatively affected by a market-driven decline in assets under management for most of the year, combined with a fourth-quarter increase in litigation costs," the company added. Published reports ascribed the litigation costs to the company’s settlement with Unilever over management of the consumer product company’s pension fund. Terms of the settlement have not been disclosed.

MLIM had $529 in assets under management at the end of the year, including $4 billion in net inflows during the quarter and $19 billion in net inflows during the year.

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