Thain to walk away with 'modest' $1.5M

Jan 23, 2009 @ 2:33 pm

By Mark Bruno

John Thain, whose month-long stint as the president of global banking and wealth management at Bank of America Corp. came to a an abrupt end yesterday, will not be walking away entirely empty-handed from the firm — even though he won't be collecting any major severance or golden-parachute packages.

He will, however, receive restricted-stock awards that accelerated after Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. was acquired by Charlotte-N.C.-based BofA — awards that are worth roughly $1.5 million, estimated David Schmidt, a compensation consultant with James F. Reda & Associates LLC in New York, who analyzed the original employment agreement Mr. Thain signed when he joined New York-based Merrill in December 2007.

At that time, Mr. Thain was awarded 1.8 million option grants and 500,000 unvested restricted-stock units.

John Thain
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John Thain (Bloomberg)

The option grants are currently underwater and have no value.

The restricted-stock units, however, are another story.

Under terms outlined in his employment agreement, he now appears to be entitled to roughly 267,000 of those units, Mr. Schmidt said.

Based on BofA's closing price of $5.71 a share yesterday, the last day of Mr. Thain's employment at the bank, those restricted-stock awards are worth $1.5 million.

It's a modest amount, Mr. Schmidt noted, compared with the $15 million signing bonus Mr. Thain received when he joined Merrill or the $10 million bonus he reportedly requested at the end of last year for brokering the deal with BofA that kept Merrill afloat.

"But it is, in many ways, still a significant amount of money given the state that the combined company is in at the moment," Mr. Schmidt added.

Scott Silvestri, a spokesman for BofA, did not immediately return a call to discuss compensation related to Mr. Thain's departure.

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