Merrill may write down $15 billion

Broker expected to take staggering loss on bad mortgage bets when it posts results next week, paper reports.

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NEW YORK ( -- Merrill Lynch is expected to report a bigger-than-expected $15 billion writedown when it reports quarterly results next week, according to a report in The New York Times.

The hit is bigger than the $12 billion writedown many Wall Street analysts are expecting, the report said.

Merrill is expected to post a steep fourth-quarter loss when it posts results next Thursday, due largely to bad bets made on mortgage investments.

As a result of the deep loss, the nation's largest broker is looking to raise additional capital from an outside investor, the newspaper said, citing people who had been briefed on the matter.

Sources told the Times that the company was in talks with overseas investors in Asia and the Middle East as well as American private equity firms in an effort to raise $4 billion.

This would not be the first time Merrill looked to outside investors for help. In December the company announced it had received at least $4.4 billion from Singapore's state-run Temasek Holdings.

Merrill Lynch (MER, Fortune 500) shares finished 3 percent higher in Thursday trade on the New York Stock Exchange. To top of page

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