Merrill Lynch has dropped four employees from its Asian debt business ahead of a shake-up of its global debt-market operations, expected to be announced last night. Merrill Lynch (Asia-Pacific) chief of debt markets Craig Weakley said the departure of the staff last Friday was not related to the department's trading performance in Asia. The most senior person affected was Stewart Booth, the chief of debt trading in Asia. He was one of a number of executives brought out from New York during the past year in anticipation of strong growth in Asian debt markets - a key area of Merrill's expansion in the past year. Credit-derivatives trader David Page, derivatives marketing executive Stevan Lambert and a yet-to-be named Singaporean employee are also understood to have left the company last week. Merrill Lynch's new chief of global debt markets, Kelly Martin, was expected to announce a new management team last night after taking on his new role in October. Mr Weakley, who heads a 100-strong Asian debt markets team, would not comment on whether his role with the investment bank would change. He said that no more job cuts were expected in the 'foreseeable' future. 'Merrill Lynch continues to believe that the opportunities in Asia are very attractive. There is no lessening of our commitment to Asia,' Mr Weakley said. The job cuts were in stark contrast to the bank's rapid build-up of its fixed-income operations during the past four years.