The final settlement between Bob McCann and Bank of America didn’t come until 10 a.m. this morning. Right up until the end the negotiations were contentious.
We expect that Bank of America will likely spin the settlement as a happy ending for everyone involved. Right now they are just declining to comment.
Make no mistake, however, about what really happened. The bank fought hard to keep McCann from taking a new position. The stakes were high for Bank of America, which bought Merrill Lynch specifically to acquire its big brokerage unit. McCann, of course, ran that unit and there is serious fear that he will be able to poach many of its top producers.
The bank had hired Sallie Krawcheck, the former chief financial officer of Citigroup, to run the brokerage. According to people familiar with the matter, it had hoped to give Krawcheck more time to win the loyalty of the Merrill brokers before releasing McCann to work for a rival.
McCann’s move to take the bank to court was startling and at least a big daring. One Wall Street veteran described it as a “David and Goliath story.”
McCann claimed in court filings that he gave written notice on January 5 that he would resign and that Bank of America accepted his reason for leaving. He said the bank rescinded its acceptance the following month, and fired him effective January 30, 2009.
We now know that McCann is free to start work again. He’s known to have been close to reaching a deal to run the brokerage business of UBS. What’s unknown is how the payout of more than $18 million in stock that was due to McCann.