It's the oldest story in the world. Girl meets boy. Girl and boy fall in love. Girl marries boy and proceeds to spend all his money. Only in this case, the girl is Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain and the boy is Bank of America. And the girl has balls. The Wall Street Journal today reports that in light of Merrill Lynch's merger with BofA—which was approved by shareholders last week but has not yet gone through—Thain has requested a $10 million bonus. His argument is that Merrill would have been worse off without him, but it still seems a little unseemly: His firm suffered net losses of $11.67 billion this year, and practically every other CEO on Wall Street has passed on bonuses in light of the financial crisis. Plus, the family he's about to marry into may disapprove of his dipping into the dowry. Of course, the papers are signed and there's nothing they can do about it, not this year, anyway:
Any decision to pay Merrill executives big bonuses could also raise eyebrows at Bank of America, which is known for its often thrifty ways. Bank of America spokesman Scott Silvestri said: "We have no comment. They are still an independent company."
So. Maybe Thain should be allowed to whoop it up a little this year. Next year he's not going to get anything but a bottle of North Carolina BBQ sauce and, maybe, if he's lucky, a brand-new apron.
Thain Spars With Board Over Bonus [WSJ]