MUMBAI - Merrill Lynch & Co has taken full control of its Indian unit DSP Merrill Lynch after Hemendra Kothari, the subsidiary's founder and chairman, said he had sold his 10 percent stake to the firm ahead of his retirement.

Kevan Watts will head the combined Indian operations of Merrill Lynch and its parent Bank of America Corp, and Vishwavir Ahuja, who runs Bank of America's Indian operations, will lead the corporate banking business, Kothari told Reuters.

I sold my 10 percent stake to Merrill Lynch & Co yesterday, Kothari said. I will retire after March 31.

He did not reveal the value of the deal. In December 2005, Merrill Lynch paid $500 million to more than double its stake to 90 percent in the investment banking venture.

My dream was to create a professional organization. I have achieved it. It is time for me to look at something I like, Kothari said adding he was interested in education, healthcare and tiger conservation.

Kothari has spent about 40 years in the financial services industry and has a 25-year relationship with Merrill Lynch.

(Editing by John Mair)