Round of applause for John Thain and the enormous restraint he demonstrated in the five months since taking over Merrill Lynch. He could’ve changed the letterhead, shaved his head and asked people to call him LB from Day One, but he resisted, pandered to the “culture of Mother Merrill,” and even ingratiated himself to the team with a few slipups reminiscent of their former CEO, just to make everyone feel at home. Ultimately, though, the temptation to make the firm “not so much Merrill as Goldman” proved too strong. He would’ve had to have the strength of a pro-wrestler/master beekeeper to hold out much longer, and as you well know, Thain is merely a former high school wrestler, and though very passionate about honey, amateur beekeeper at best. So the statement from MER today that JT has hired former GS colleague Thomas Montag to head trading worldwide should come not come as a shock, nor should the whispers (in our head) that he’s rallying hard to bring in erstwhile Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine in some sort of capacity. Though, according to the rumors, the would be hire has less to do with turning Merrill into Goldman than Thain attempting to assuage his guilt about ousting his mentor back in the day, and also to bring Wall Street’s greatest bear hugs back into his life, via payroll. Additionally, DealBreaker has obtained an internal memo sent out to senior management this morning entitled “Drop Everything: Things We Must Do to Become More like Goldman”
1.If anybody knows someone at the NYSE, try and find out if it’s possible to get our ticker symbol changed from MER to GS2.
2.Begin offering free soda and bottled water on the trading floor today. Cruelly rescind beverage welfare program next week.
3.Contact WSJ, NYT reporters to plant “story” that the Clinton/Obama/McCain campaigns are all “desperate” to land me as treasury secretary.
4.Initiate buddy system between prime brokerage and prop desk in order to facilitate front running of clients.
In other news, Stan O’Neal has been spotted dining at media Mecca Michael’s, with jacket, sans pants.
Merrill's Thain Hires Former Goldman Colleague Montag [Bloomberg]