On Second Thought, Merrill CEO Will Forgo Yearly Bonus

That didn’t take long.

Yesterday, as we noted, the Wall Street Journal reported that Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain was seeking an annual bonus of as much as $10 million — after seeing his company lose over $11 billion this year.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were both quick to express their outrage, noting that Bank of America, which has completed a deal to buy Merrill, received $15 billion from the bailout fund this fall. And Merrill’s board appeared reluctant to go along.

And sure enough, at the company’s board meeting yesterday afternoon, Thain announced that he, along with other senior execs, would forgo bonuses this year, “given current economic and market conditions.”

Given the level of outrage that Thain’s request had provoked so quickly, the board’s apparent opposition, and the broader public mood against excessive CEO pay, Thain may have seen the writing on the wall.

And given that he got a $15 million bonus when he joined the firm last fall, we think he should be fine.