from Summit Notebook:

Thain says put shareholders first

John Thain says he put shareholders first and his interests second in deciding to sell Merrill Lynch to Bank of America.

Thain, speaking at the Reuters Global Finance Summit in New York, said a deal to sell a partial stake in Merrill Lynch to Goldman Sachs would have been better for him, but the sale of the entire Wall Street firm to Bank of America was the best outcome for shareholders.

Over a fateful weekend in September 2008, as Lehman hurtled toward bankruptcy, AIG floundered and the financial system looked into the abyss, Merrill held discussions with Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley for various transactions, Thain said.

Initial discussions with Bank of America involved either the sale of the entire company or a 9.9 percent stake and a multibillion credit line, the former Merrill CEO said.

With Goldman, discussions only involved the stake sale and the credit line. Discussions with Morgan Stanley about a strategic transaction were brief, he said.

Lehman and its aftermath, by the numbers


With apologies to Harper’s Index, some collected statistics on the collapse of Lehman and the roller-coaster year that followed.

Add your own significant digits in the comments section.


Number of siblings who made up the original Lehman Brothers, founded as a dry-goods store in 1844: 3

Age of Bavarian immigrant Henry Lehman when he founded the business: 23

Percentage difference between the DNA of former Lehman CEO Dick “The Gorilla” Fuld and an actual gorilla:

Thain, Lewis part ways

Thain and LewisJohn Thain’s out of the door as well. And one wonders if Ken Lewis could have saved himself a lot of heartache if only he had watched the action movie “Speed”. ¬†

Sandra Bullock called it more than a decade ago. As her character says in the movie: You know, relationships that start under intense circumstances — they never last.

Thain’s departure leaves Lewis without several top executives at Merrill, which it acquired on Jan. 1 for $19.4 billion. Other top Merrill executives to recently leave include Robert McCann, who was to lead the combined brokerage, and investment banking chief Greg Fleming.