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November 21, 2007 > Merrill Lynch to award $15 million cash bonus

Merrill Lynch to award $15 million cash bonus

By Kristen A. Lee

NEW YORK (AP), Nov 16 _ Merrill Lynch & Co. said Friday it has agreed to award incoming Chairman and Chief Executive John Thain a cash bonus of $15 million for fiscal year 2007, after he joins the world's largest brokerage on Dec. 1.

Merrill's announcement on Wednesday that the NYSE Euronext Inc. CEO will join the firm came just two weeks after former CEO Stan O'Neal was ousted following steep third-quarter losses.

Merrill Lynch said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing the cash award recognizes that Thain will not receive a bonus from NYSE for the year.

Thain will also receive an annual salary of $750,000, a sign-on equity award of 1.8 million Merrill Lynch stock options and 500,000 restricted stock units. Two-thirds of the sign-on options are subject to performance vesting requirements.

Under the terms of his employment agreement, Thain also receives Merrill Lynch stock options and restricted stock units with value and terms identical to the NYSE stock options and stock units he is forfeiting.

Merrill said its board will determine Thain's future bonus compensation annually.

Thain will not be entitled to any severance or pension benefits, nor will he be entitled to a change-in-control severance agreement or any perks, other than a car and driver. Thain will only be given use of the company aircraft for business purposes, according to the agreement.

Merrill said Thain will also sign its standard executive agreement which provides for a six-month termination notice and limitations on competing with the company post termination.

Before joining the New York Stock Exchange, Thain, 52, served as president and chief operating officer of rival Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Wall Street's biggest investment bank.

Merrill shares fell $1.19, or 2.1 percent, to $56.11 on Friday.

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