John McKinley, chief technology officer and head of the global technology and services division of Merrill Lynch is to leave the company next month "to pursue other professional opportunities".
Forty-four year old McKinley's unexpected departure was announced in a memo to staff circulated by Merrill chairman Dave Komansky and chief executive Stan O'Neal. John Cummings, Merrill's chief operating officer in charge of global technology and services, has been lined up to take on McKinley's duties.
A former chief technology officer at GE Capital, McKinley joined Merrill Lynch in 1998 as the technology bull run was picking up pace. He has since been credited with keeping a lid on Merrill's technology cost base through the introduction of Linux and Web services and the initiation of an offshore development programme.
His departure is being viewed as part of a wider shake-up of Merrill's executive committee under new broom Stan O'Neal as he prepares to take over the chairmanship from Komansky in April.
McKinley's replacement Cummings is a 21-year veteran at Merrill Lynch. The former head of private client services was considered instrumental in the firm's push to develop new electronic trading capabilities and the successful launch of Merrill Lynch OnLine and ML Direct.