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Head of Merrill Lynch Real Estate in Asia quits

Tim Grady, the head of global commercial real estate in Asia Pacific for Merrill Lynch has quit in the latest personnel change since the bank was acquired by Bank of America last year.

Timothy Grady, a familiar name in the Asia real estate fund industry, has resigned from Merrill Lynch. The move has spurred speculation over the future of the Merrill Lynch Asia Real Estate Opportunity Fund.

Sources close to Grady, who is based in Hong Kong, confirmed that he has left Merrill Lynch in recent weeks and is taking a break. At Merrill Lynch, Grady oversaw real estate investing and lending in the region, and was responsible for managing the Merrill Lynch Asian Real Estate Opportunities Fund. A spokesman for the bank declined to comment.

According to sources, Martin Seol, a managing director and the Asia Pacific head of acquisitions for global commercial real estate, will be the interim head for the fund. Seol is to report to Doug Sesler, head of global principal investments real estate in New York.

Within Merrill Lynch, there has been a number of leadership changes in the past two years, sources close to the bank confirmed. The pan-Asian fund held a final close last year and a substantial portion is believed to have been deployed.

The resignation of the former Merrill Lynch head of global commercial real estate in Asia Pacific is the latest in a series of departures in the banking circle. It is also perhaps the most high profile within the Asia private equity real estate fund industry since a group of senior investment executives left Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing Asian division to eventually join Och Ziff Asia Real Estate.

Grady joined Merrill Lynch from Morgan Stanley Real Estate Fund International in March 2006 where he oversaw real estate investment activities and investment banking across Asia Pacific. Prior to that, he was at Lehman Brothers in Thailand and New York.

Grady began his career with Goldman Sachs in New York and has lived and worked across a number of countries in Asia over the past ten years.