Mother Merrill Delivers: 700 Execs Get $1+ Million


As Bank of America employees contemplate their three years of deferred bonuses, Merrill Lynch employees close their eyes and thank heaven for John Thain:

Greg Farrell, FT: In spite of operating losses of $41.2bn for 2008, close to 700 Merrill executives received cash bonuses of more than $1m for the year, Mr Cuomo wrote.

John Thain, former Merrill chief executive, and his management team paid the bonuses in late December, bringing forward the payments by a full month, just days before Bank of America completed its acquisition of Merrill. Neither he nor his inner circle received bonuses.

After the $121m paid to the top four, the next 10 recipients took home $128m in incentive pay, while the top 149 bonus recipients got a total of $858m. The fact that Merrill paid out billions in bonuses at a time when Mr Lewis was asking for $20bn in government funds to complete the acquisition has generated outrage over the alleged use of bank rescue funds to reward Wall Street executives.

In all, Mr Cuomo determined that 696 employees of Merrill Lynch received a bonus of at least $1m for the year.

Meanwhile, on Capital Hill today, Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis said BAC urged Merrill to reduce the size of the bonus pool “substantially.”  That’s not what John Thain says.