Merrill's Thain Rues Picking Pricey Office Decor Over Ikea
Former Merrill Lynch CEO denies accelerating bonuses
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 18, 2009 12:21 PM CDT
In this Sept. 15, 2008, file photo, then Merrill Lynch chief John Thain, left, and Bank of America Chairman and CEO Ken Lewis shake hands following a news conference in New York.   (AP Photos/Bebeto Matthews, file)
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(Newser) – Merrill Lynch's former CEO issued an apology of sorts for spending $1.2 million—including $35,000 for a commode—to redecorate his office as the firm bottomed out, Bloomberg reports. “We decorated it in the style that Merrill Lynch offices were, which was very, very nice,” John Thain said at Wharton. “That was a mistake, and I'm sorry." The punchline, delivered to laughter: "If I had that to do over again, I’d furnish it in Ikea.”

In his speech, Thain also denied that he accelerated bonus payments to Merrill employees ahead of the Bank of America merger. “When I got fired in January and they said ‘John Thain secretly accelerated these bonuses,’ they were lying,” he said of BofA’s leadership. “And that has now trapped them into a lot of trouble, because there is a document that says yes, in fact, they agreed to this in September.”