John Thain Was For A Huge Bonus Before He Was Against It


So did John Thain ask for tens of millions of dollars as a bonus payment for his role as the chief executive of Merrill Lynch? We’ve reported that Thain asked for as much as $40 million, while others have said that he asked for just $10 million. But a report in the New York Post’s Page Six yesterday suggests that Thain never asked for a bonus at all.

So what’s going on? Did Thain ask for the bonus or not?

Page Six says the story of Thain’s bonus has been leaked by various sources at Bank of America, which bought Merrill Lynch at the end of last yeaer. But a December email from Bank of Americah chief administrative office Steele Alphin to two other “honchos” said Thain never asked for the $10 million and he was OK with taking a smaller bonus than Bank of America chief executive Ken Lewis.

We haven’t seen that email. Our sources, however, say that Alphin might not have known Thain asked for the tens of millions. You see, Thain made his request for a bonus while he was still running Merrill Lynch. The merger hadn’t been completed, so Thain approached the Merrill board about the bonus.

Recall that at the same period Thain was busy approving billions on bonuses for Merrill employees, a move which has prompted outrage across Wall Street and in Washington DC.

Thain’s bonus request would have gone to John Finnegan, the head of Merrill’s compensation committee and CEO of Chubb Corp. Finnegan has not attempted to clear Thain’s name on the bonus matter. Indeed, he has been “unavailable for comment” throughout the scandal. It’s a telling silence.

One source familiar with the matter tells us that Finnegan may well have been one of the original sources for the stories of the bonus. Finnegan is said to have been shocked at Thain’s request. In order to put a stop to it, he decided to publicly run it up a flag pole, the source says.

So, yes. Thain asked for the bonus, as best we can determine. He just may not have asked Bank of America for the bonus, which explains that Page Six email.


  • Merrill’s Thain Asked For $40 Milliion