Thain’s thin fees

Contact: Brenon Daly

In the combination of Merrill Lynch and Bank of America, it’s all over but the shouting. The banks held separate shareholder meetings Friday to take the pending deal to their respective shareholder bases, with both sides approving it. (Originally valued at some $50bn, the slump in shares of Bank of America has cut the final price of the all-equity transaction to less than half that amount.) The deal will officially close before year-end.

While all that seems straightforward enough, the shouting is coming from a showdown over (what else?) money. Specifically, the insistence by Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain that he’s due a $10m bonus for his work over the past year. We’ll leave the debate on ‘Wall Street greed’ to Lou Dobbs and others, and, similarly, will pass on offering thoughts on whether the bonus would make Thain overpaid or not. However, we would note that a $10m advisory fee for a $21bn deal is hardly exorbitant, as any banker would tell you.

Select 2008 deals for Merrill Lynch and Bank of America

Date Acquirer Target Deal value
October 2008 ebay (Merrill Lynch) Bill Me Later $945m
October 2008 Hewlett-Packard LeftHand Networks (Merrill Lynch) $360m
July 2008 Brocade Communications Systems (Bank of America) Foundry Networks (Merrill Lynch) $2.6bn
April 2008 Blue Coat Systems (Merrill Lynch) Packeteer $268m
March 2008 BMC Software (Merrill Lynch) BladeLogic $800m
January 2008 Microsoft FAST Search & Transfer (Merrill Lynch) $1.2bn

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase