“While Merrill staggered, 11 top executives were paid more than $10 million in cash and stock last year, say people familiar with the situation,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
Amazingly, the top ten earners at the company in 2008, according to the paper, made slightly more than the top ten in 2007: $209 million, up from $201 million.
Remember, as you think about that, what happened to Merrill last year. It collapsed — so wrecked by its investment in toxic mortgage assets that it had to be taken over by Bank of America. Then, even after that deal had been announced, it absorbed such massive fourth quarter losses that B of A needed $20 billion from the Treasury to digest Merrill.
None of that, of course, stopped Merrill, under then-CEO John Thain, from dishing out billions in bonuses late last year — a decision currently being probed by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
On that front, the WSJ reports that B of A plans to file a court motion today to try to keep the compensation data from becoming public. But Cuomo will counter with his own motion arguing it should be released.
The paper also has some good thumbnails of these high-rollers:
Thomas Montag: Started as head of global sales and trading at Merrill in August and now heads global markets at Bank of America. He was handed a $39.4 million pay package and Merrill stock awards valued at approximately $50 million. The stock awards were issued to replace stock he held in Goldman Sachs Group Inc., his previous employer.
Andrea Orcel: A top Merrill banker who now heads international corporate and investment banking for Bank of America. He got $33.8 million in 2008, down from approximately $36 million in 2007. His 2007 package included a special $12 million bonus for advising Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC and other acquirers of ABN Amro Holdings NV, a now-troubled deal.
Peter Kraus: Hired as head of strategy at Merrill in September and was given a $29.4 million contract and Merrill stock to replace his holdings in Goldman, where he used to work. He is now the chief executive officer of investment management firm AllianceBernstein. (Ed note: We wrote about Kraus’s $37 million Park Avenue apartment here.)
David Gu: Head of rates at Merrill; now heads global rates and currencies at Bank of America. He made $18.7 million in 2008, down from $19.8 million in 2007.
David Goodman: Co-head of global commodities at Merrill and Bank of America. Got a two-year employment guarantee from Merrill in 2007, paying him $16.5 million in 2007 and another $16.5 million in 2008.