I just the love the way these things are phrased
After writing off twice the amount pre-announced and having unauthorizes merger discussions with Wachovia (WB), Merill's (MER) CEO Stan O'Neal has "decided" to leave the firm according to sources. On Friday I speculated "O'Neal may have been trying to negotiate himself a nice buyout severance package knowing what was coming down the pike." It turns out there is quite a bit of truth to that. According to Merrill's proxy, O'Neal would be entitled to about $200 million in total severance were Merrill sold or merged but should he decide to leave or be fired, his renumeration would be a fraction of that. One can only assume the Wachovia overtures were a desperate attempt on O'Neal's part to walk away with as much in his pocket as possible.
For his part Wachovia CEO G. Kennedy Thompson said that "the timing was not right" as the bank is currently digesting other acquisitions.
Leading candidates for his job are Blackrock's (BLK) Larry Fink and and the NYSE exchange President and former Goldman Sachs C0-President (GS)John Thain although it is unclear if either would be interested. One would be hard pressed to think Fink would not and Thain would be as has a nice place for himself at the NYSE.
Either way, isn't nice of Fink to walk away for the mess he made without a struggle?