Gerry Levin’s mea culpa

January 5, 2010

Finally got around to watching this video. Kudos to Gerry Levin for taking responsibility for the worst merger in history. His comments about banks being malls instead of supermarkets is very true, but it’s not his, it’s Chris Whalen’s, who provided a helpful counterpoint in NYT’s non-mea-culpa from Sandy Weill. Their point is that the synergy Sandy Weill claimed for Citigroup — combining insurance with commercial banking with investing banking with retail brokerage, etc. — was bogus from the start.

Of course Sandy doesn’t have it in him to admit he was wrong. Instead he blames his successor Chuck Prince. Another CEO who got away with blowing up a company was Merrill’s Stan O’Neal. John Thain has taken heat for his time there, much of it he probably deserves for his ridiculous office redesign and for extracting bailout money to fund Merrill’s bonus pool. But O’Neal is the guy that deserves the blame for Merrill’s collapse. He got his golden parachute and disappeared.

One comment

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rolfe,

some very good points raised including the lead and lag time between disaster and management at the helm. Weil, and O’Neal are both probably responsible for a lot of the structuring that lead to the problems. It was like a game of hot potato. Honesty and the ability to apologize and admit mistakes are the hallmarks true leadership.

Those who cultivate the image of Infallibility are merely dishonest people wrongly in positions of authority.