By Stanley Bing
October 29, 2007

News comes today of the very likely departure of Stan O’Neal from the top slot at Merrill Lynch (MER). He’s out in record time 1) due to the whole subprime situation and 2) because it looks like he approached Wachovia (WB) about a merger without properly informing those who thought they should be informed.

This brings two thoughts to mind:

  • Do any of you really understand the whole subprime thing? I mean, I kind of get it, because I’ve read a bunch about it, but perhaps one of you out there can explain it to the rest of us simply. Please do. And thanks.
  • Do any of you think that that name “Wachovia” is a subliminal message? If you prounouch the “ch” as a soft sound, you could say that it’s a bank that will “watch over ya.” I like a bank like that. You think it’s a coincidence? If, on the other hand, you fail to bank there, it’s just possible (if the “ch” is hard, like a K) that the world will “walk over ya.” Who wants that? I want a bank that protects me from stuff like that!

Anyhow, back to business. The thought for today is Mr. O’Neal’s exit package. If a merger with Wachovia had taken place, he would have been paid as much as $274 million, according to the LA Times. That’s a lot of money, even by today’s standards. Even one percent of that sounds nice.

As it is, upon leaving, he’ll walk about with about $154 million in pension payments, stock options, and direct holdings in the company. That’s in addition to the nearly $50 million he made last year. Of course, I know how newspapers factor in all kinds of future goodies into these numbers, but by any measure we’ve got another case of somebody who has made his fortune being canned.

God! Please send me one of those jobs!

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