Big payday for exiting Merrill Lynch CEO

Steve Henn Oct 29, 2007


Scott Jagow: There’s a good chance the CEO of Merrill Lynch will resign this morning — or be fired. Stan O’Neal would become the highest-ranking job casualty of this Wall Street credit mess.

Last week, Merrill Lynch turned in the biggest quarterly loss of its 93-year history, thanks to bad investments in mortgage-backed securities called SIVs. So, O’Neal’s gonna pay the price for that. Kind of. Here’s Steve Henn.

Steve Henn: It’s good to be king, but it may be even better to be the deposed CEO of a big Wall Street investment house.

Stanley O’Neal wiped out billions of dollars in shareholder equity and then began negotiations for a major merger with a rival bank without first getting the go-ahead from his board of directors.

Nonetheless, O’Neal could be on the verge of a big, fat payday.

James Reda: He’s gonna walk away with about $150 million.


James Reda runs a compensation consulting firm, and analyzed O’Neal’s contract. Reda says Merrill’s board could also allow O’Neal to keep his stock options.

Reda: That could be worth $40 [million], $50 million right there.

O’Neal took home $48 million last year — which means getting canned could triple or even quadruple his income.

In Washington, I’m Steve Henn for Marketplace.

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