Merrill Lynch in Japan has paid a high price for a pool of non-performing real estate loans at a Japanese bank asset sale held in December, leading to speculation that it is keen on becoming the next firm to securitize non-performing loans in Japan.

Merrill was the winning bidder at an auction held by the Cooperative Credit Purchasing Co. (CCPC), a government entity in Tokyo that buys non-performing loans from Japanese city banks and holds regular asset sales.

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