Merrill CEO Fights for His $10M Bonus

Public outrage against excessive CEO compensation on Wall Street?

Merrill Lynch honcho John Thain must have never gotten the memo. 

The CEO and chairman of the embattled securities firm, which will be formally absorbed by the Bank of America later this month, is asking for a $10 million bonus, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The firm's executive compensation committee and full board will meet and hear Thain's formal bonus request today, the Journal reported.   On the one hand, the company has suffered loses of $11.6 billion this year and as many as 20 percent of Merrill employees will get axed when the Bank of America takeover is complete, according to the Journal.

On the other hand, Thain has only been the boss at Merrill since last December and is credited in the wake of the credit crisis with taking decisive action that salvaged jobs and shareholder value, the Journal said.   

Just a few months, the firm was considering giving Thain a $30 million bonus, but he has recently scaled back his request to be in the range of $5 million to $10 million, according to the Journal.   He received $750,000 in salary.

On Friday, Winthrop Smith Jr. -- the 59-year-old son of one of the founding partners of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith -- admonished Merrill's board and the company's previous chiefs.

"This is the story of failed leadership and the failure of a board of directors to understand what was happening to this great company, and its failure to take action soon enough," Smith said, according to meeting minutes, reported in the Journal.

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