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Bank of America and Merrill Lynch shareholders have approved BofA’s purchase of Merrill.

“When this transaction closes, Bank of America will have the premier financial-services franchise …,” Bank of America Chairman and CEO Kenneth D. Lewis says. “With Merrill Lynch, we also will significantly add to our global footprint in several businesses, including investment banking and sales and trading, enabling us to deepen existing client relationships and create greater opportunity to establish new ones.”

Bank of America says it is now expected to have the largest wealth management business in the world with nearly 20,000 financial advisors and about $2.5 trillion in client assets. Global investment management capabilities include a 50 percent ownership in BlackRock Inc., which had $1.26 trillion in assets under management at September 30.

Under the terms of the transaction, announced September 15, Merrill stockholders will receive 0.8595 of a share of Bank of America common stock for each share of Merrill Lynch common stock held immediately prior to the merger. Merrill will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of BofA. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of the year, pending the receipt of regulatory approvals and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions, according to a Merrill press release.

“By approving this transaction, Merrill Lynch stockholders expressed confidence that the combination of our firm and Bank of America will create one of the most powerful financial institutions in the world, with unmatched capabilities and service,” explains John Thain, chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch. “This combination will create great value for our stockholders and clients around the world.”

The Federal Reserve approved the transaction last week, according to several news reports.

The deal, originally valued at $50 billion, is now valued at less than $20 billion due to the falling value of BofA’s stock.

Some observers see the “shotgun deal” as symbolic of the recent transformation of Wall Street and the dominant role of investment banks. “The I-bank model is gone,” Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analyst Jefferson Harralson says. “This vote is a visible piece of the changing world,” he has explained.

Soon after news of the BofA-Merrill became public, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley, applied to become bank holding companies.

While both firms have already cut thousands of investment banking jobs in the past 12 months, reports have circulated recently that thousands more job reductions are expected. At the end of the third quarter, Merrill had some 61,000 staff members worldwide, and BofA included 247,000. Over the next three years, up to 30,000 positions may be eliminated – roughly 10 percent of the combined 308,000 employees.