The media and bloggers have gone after John Thain pretty aggressively in the past week or so, and I'd just like to take this opportunity to suggest that a little slack cutting might be in order.
For those of you who haven't been paying attention, Thain is the embattled CEO of Merrill Lynch who has had everyone up in his jock simply because he requested a salary bonus that was rightfully his.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that:
Merrill Lynch & Co. chief John Thain has suggested to directors that he get a 2008 bonus of as much as $10 million...Suddenly everyone was jumping on Thain's case for having such hubris, asking for a $10 million bonus while the economy, led by the banking sector that he was a major player in, when down the crapper.
The committee and full board are scheduled to meet Monday to hear Mr. Thain's formal bonus recommendations for himself and other senior executives of the New York company. No decision has been reached, and it isn't known what Mr. Thain will recommend, but the compensation committee is leaning toward denying the executives bonuses for this year...
Why? Because he set up a deal for Bank of America to buy Merrill Lynch. That’s right. The firm was in dire straits and needed somebody to save them. That’s why this guy thinks he’s entitled to this cash.From WSJ Blogs:
there will probably be a scant few who judge that in a time of turmoil, a few phone calls to BofA CEO Ken Lewis is worth an extra $10 million..."There are many more examples of people eager to place their dagger in Thain's back. But I come not to bury Thain, but to honor him.
I mean, shouldn't we look at the entire body of Thain's work at Merrill Lynch when assessing his bonus request? He was there for an entire year, after all.
Sure, maybe his company lost
But c'mon guys. This is America. We all about giving people a second chance. We're about understanding when someone has bad luck, not kicking them when they're down.
We're not going to fire you just because your wife ran around the office barefoot, insulted your coworkers and employees and performed ancient Druid rituals to try to get a tenant for the Sprint Center.
We still support you even if your pro-football team only wins six games in the last two years.
We don't blame you for having a bit too much to drink and driving your oil tanker into a mountain, despoiling pristine Alaskan wildlife habitats.
What we need to remember is that without his $10 million bonus, Thain only makes about $750,000 a year. Anyone care to tell me how he's supposed to replace the leather on the seats of his private jet on only $750,000 a year? Do you know how much it costs to pay illegal aliens to clean his 29-room Central Park West condo?
All I'm saying is that before we start criticizing Thain, we should all walk a mile in his Berlutis.
tagged: John Thain, Merrill Lynch, bonus, economy, Berluti