Ex-Merrill CEO Thain Can’t Do Worse at Bankrupt CIT Group
Bankrupt lender CIT Group announced today that it hired former Merrill Lynch Chairman and CEO John Thain to take over the top slot at the company and, hopefully, lead it out of bankruptcy. A bit of background on CIT Group: The company accepted $2.3 billion from the TARP in December 2008, only to file for bankruptcy in November 2009 — thus wiping out the government’s investment.
Since Thain oversaw a loss of $1.79 billion in his last quarter at Merrill, he can hardly do worse at a company that has already gone bankrupt.
In an amusing twist, Bank of America — which forced him out post-merger with Merrill after he finagled billions of dollars in bonuses ahead of the shotgun marriage — will be paying taxes to recoup the government’s losses on CIT and others if Obama’s big bank tax makes it through Congress. Better yet for Thain, the man that forced him into unemployment, former BofA Chairman Ken Lewis, is now unemployed himself.
Despite his high-flying corporate career, Thain is likely to be best remembered as the man who, in the midst of massive losses at Merrill Lynch in January 2008, spent $1.2 million of the company’s money to renovate his private offices. Some of those expenses included an $87,000 area rug, a $13,000 chandelier for his private dining room, and $35,000 for a “commode on legs.” While similar devices can be had for less than $200, one assumes Thain didn’t want to touch anything but the finest of craftsmanship.
The person with the, ahem, crap job of removing the commode from Thain’s office after his resignation probably wouldn’t have noticed the difference.