CEO Stan O’Neal has leaped from the flames of Merrill Lynch after its $8.4 billion write-down last week, but nobody yet knows the size of his golden parachute, writes the Wall Street Journal. Teams of lawyers are negotiating an exit package that may exceed $160 million, reflecting 21 years of service, including five as CEO, say spokesmen.
“I’d be surprised if they go beyond” the standard CEO entitlement, said an analyst. O’Neal cashed in options worth over $57 million between 1999 and 2007, according to regulatory findings. His most valuable options were granted at post-9/11 prices for his nonstop efforts to salvage the firm’s operations after the terrorist attacks dispersed thousands of Merrill staff.