Long time veterans of Merrill Lynch are deeply angered over the treatment of former Merrill Lynch brokerage boss Dan Sontag, who resigned earlier this month after Bank of America (BAC) surprised him by hiring Sallie Krawcheck to take over the brokerage.
Officially, Sontag resigned on good terms with Bank Of America. He is still keeping mum about the circumstances about his resignation. But the truth about the surprise hire of Krawcheck is starting to spread through the company, ruffling feathers and raising resentment against the Bank of America management. Many have concluded that Sontag was basically fired, forced out through a virtual demotion. Bank of America, of course, denies that this was either surprising or a firing.
Merrill Lynch is no stranger to controversy and corporate in-fighting. But the treatment of Sontag–who learned only moments before the public announcement that Krawcheck was being brought in to run his division–has engendered more bad will than anything in recent memory.
Normally cool characters are very obviously steamed. Sontag, the son of a Merrill broker and the father of another, had the deepest ties imaginable to the firm. The Krawcheck move is seen by many as a betrayal of the multi-generational loyalty on the Sontags.
“It’s the way these people are,” one Merrill Lynch long-timer said about Bank of America. He described the move to replace Sontag as “deeply cynical.”
Even those who were critical of Sontag–those who thought he was a competent but uninspired leader of the brokers–were shocked by the way Sontag was treated.
“It was an ambush. They chopped his head off while he was still carrying their water,” one former Merrill employee said.
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