An excerpt from a new book by the Financial Times’ Greg Farrell tells a very interesting story about how Brian Moynihan got his job, first as General Counsel for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and then eventually, as CEO.Brian Moynihan (aka the Tazmanian Devil), remember, almost left Bank of America. The firm had already drawn up a press release announcing his departure. But then he became General Counsel, by ousting Tim Mayopoulos, who Greg Farrell describes as an egomaniacal wild man.
Here’s an excerpt from his new book, Crash of the Titans:
[Pete Kelly, a lawyer from Bank of America who was starting a new job working with Merrill Lynch after the merger] had sensed some reluctance on the part of [Tom Mayopoulos] to have him on his team. Now, alone with his new boss, Kelly watched that reluctance burst forth in a spasm of contempt.
“I picked you for this position,” Mayopoulos said with an edge in his voice. “You’re going to do the job the way I tell you to, and don’t forget it.”
“We’ll see about that,” replied Kelly, who knew he had been forced on Mayopoulos by [John Thain] and [Greg Fleming].
“No. We won’t see about that. That’s the way it’s going to be. I know more about investment banking than you do. I’m better at this than you are!”
“If saying it makes it so,” snapped Kelly. “Otherwise, it’s up to the client to decide.”………….
After about an hour, Mayopoulos took Kelly to a different conference room, where they were joined by Caccamise and David Grimes, the chief operating officer of BofA’s legal department. Now it was three against one…
“I don’t think I need you three guys in a room telling me how to run this unit,” he said. “I’ll figure it out on my own.”
“You just don’t get it, do you?” said Mayopoulos. “I decide how this is supposed to work, not you!”
“I’m responsible for this area,” Kelly insisted. “I’ll make the calls.”
They had come to an impasse, and Kelly felt Mayopoulos may have reached the breaking point with him.
The door opened, and Mayopoulos’s secretary entered the room.
“Tim, Amy Brinkley needs you for a moment in your office. It’s important,” she said discreetly.
Mayopoulos was adamant as he left the conference room.
“We’re going to finish this,” he snapped at Kelly. “Don’t you go anywhere.”
He strode down the hall toward his office and entered. When he saw Brinkley, his boss, he greeted her.
“Tim, Ken is replacing you as general counsel,” she said coldly. “He just decided this. Brian Moynihan is going to become the new general counsel.”
And that’s how fast Moynihan took over.
Mayopoulos was stunned and couldn’t even get a word out.
“You are terminated from Bank of America as of this moment, and you are to leave the premises immediately. You can’t take anything with you. There’s someone from HR outside the office who has your severance papers.”
And with that, Brinkley left, and in walked a man from Steele Alphin’s department holding a sheaf of papers. He took Mayopoulos’s corporate ID card, company credit card, BlackBerry, and office keys, and put them down on the desk. Then, having done everything but read him his Miranda rights, he escorted Mayopoulos to the elevator and down to the executive garage in the basement of the building, and got into Mayopoulos’s car so that he could physically escort him off the premises.