Saturday, January 24, 2009

John Thain, Then and Now

On DealJournal
Update: Obama on Thain - “the reports that we’ve seen over the last couple of days about companies that have received taxpayer assistance, then going out and renovating bathrooms or offices or in other ways not managing those dollars appropriately”.

January 2008: Thain slashes costs at Merrill, ridding the firm of the helicopter frequented by predecessor Stan O’Neal and replacing $20,000 worth of cut fresh flowers with silk ones.
January 2009: Revelations emerge that, at the same time Thain was cutting costs, he also spent $1.2 million decorating his own office, including an $87,000 rug and $35,000 “commode with legs.”

February 2008: “I don’t think it’s an accident that the firms that seem to have avoided these problems the best have CEOs who get very actively involved in the business,” Thain told Bloomberg. “You look at Goldman and you look at Lehman.”
January 20, 2009: “Senior executives at Bank of America sensed that Mr. Thain didn’t appear to be fully engaged in issues surrounding the deal just when the scope of Merrill’s losses was becoming apparent. In mid-December, Mr. Thain left on a vacation to Vail, Colo., and was pretty much out of touch after that, says this person,” the Journal wrote.

January 17, 2008: Thain: “We were very comfortable with our liquidity position, both at the end of the year and going forward.” — Fourth quarter 2007 earnings call interview with France’s Le Figaro newspaper
March 16, 2008: Thain said, “We have more capital than we need, so we can say to the market that we don’t need more injections. We can confirm that we have tackled the problem.” –to Spain’s El Pais newspaper

February 2008: “When you’re the smartest guy in the room, which [Thain] typically is, you come at things from a different altitude,” CFO Nelson Chai told Bloomberg.
January 22, 2009: The Journal wrote, “When Mr. Lewis asked Mr. Thain what happened, the Bank of America CEO didn’t get a ‘good explanation for what was happening and why,’ this person said. Not only did Mr. Thain not appear concerned about the losses, but he ‘didn’t really have a good grasp of what was going on,’ this person added.

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