Merrill Lynch & Co's head of structured finance and investments Michael Blum is leaving the company as the brokerage scales back its securitization business, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

Blum, whose unit created asset backed securities, packaged everything from mortgages to Hollywood films into bonds for sophisticated investors. That sector of the market has been hard hit by the credit crisis, resulting in massive write downs of assets.

Blum is leaving the firm on amicable terms but hasn't decided what his next job will be, one person close to Blum said. The departure was not announced publicly.

At the peak of the real estate market 17 months ago, Blum oversaw Merrill's $1.3 billion acquisition of First Franklin Financial, a subprime mortgage lender which is now being shut down.

He also helped finance Marvel Entertainment Inc's foray into the movie producing business, providing a $525 million, 10 picture loan deal backed by collateral in the form of the rights to Marvel characters Captain American, Nick Fury and The Avengers.

This week, 'Iron Man,' one of Marvel's productions made a strong box office debut, grossing nearly $100 million in its opening weekend, with some industry pundits predicting up to $300 million in total receipts for the movie's U.S. theatrical run.