Thain Debacle Stings BofA Chief

By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2009 5:25 PM CST
Bank of America Chairman and CEO Ken Lewis listens during a news conference in New York, Monday, Sept. 15, 2008.   (AP Photos/Bebeto Matthews)
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(Newser) – John Thain may have lost his job running Merrill Lynch, but woe to the CEO who dared merge with him, the Economist reports. Thain no doubt trashed his reputation by failing to tell BofA chief Ken Lewis about looming losses—and handing out multimillion-dollar bonuses in the meantime—but Lewis, who booted Thain this week, appears reckless for ever approving the Merrill merger.

Stockholders are also upset with Lewis for claiming to have vetted Merrill's shaky books, and standing by as Merrill stocks plummeted 80% in recent months. Thain, however, retains the favor of Merrill shareholders who benefited from his shrewd sale to BofA at $29 per share. "That canny piece of negotiating will ensure that Mr. Thain remains a hero to some," the Economist writes.