Merrill Lynch will name NYSE chief John Thain as its CEO as soon as today, an insider tells the Wall Street Journal. The former Goldman Sachs president, on Merrill’s shortlist since Stan O'Neal was shown the door two weeks ago, was also under consideration for Citigroup’s top post. The move comes as something of a surprise, as Wall Streeters had focused attention on BlackRock CEO Larry Fink.
Known as a consensus builder, Thain presided over major changes at NYSE, taking the company public and increasing electronic trading. He’s never been at the helm of a company with a huge stable of brokers, the Journal notes, but years of experience on mortgage bond desks before he became Goldman's president may be a boon, given that Merrill’s losses stem from the housing market collapse.