While Wachovia (WB) passed on the opportunity to acquire Merrill Lynch (MER), they are in effect acquiring some of its most valuable assets.
Wachovia has been hiring some of Merrill's most accomplished brokers and traders. since those folks have a large amount of their pay packages in Merrill stock, let's just say they have taken a significant pay cut with Merrill's stock down 32% YTD.
Wachovia is offering upfront bonuses to the people they want and reports are that they are getting them in mass.
Wachovia passed on acquiring Merrill's problems last month, they have jumped at getting the assets that matter, its people.