On the heels of merger rumors between Morgan Stanley and money manager BlackRock, Merrill Lynch is now said to be in the final stages of similar discussions with the fixed income specialist.

Merrill would reportedly sell its asset management business to BlackRock for $8 billion, in exchange for a 49% minority stake in the New York money manager. The arrangement would give BlackRock access to Merrill's more than 15,000 brokers, and Merrill access to one of the best-performing fund managers on Wall Street.

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