The stunning announcement of John Thain's departure from Bank of America ( BAC) yesterday, less than a month after merging Merrill Lynch ( MER) into the bank would have been unthinkable a few weeks ago. After announcing the shotgun marriage of Merrill Lynch with Bank of America in September, hours after Lehman Brothers collapsed, the sterling reputation of John Thain was cemented: This was a CEO who could do no wrong.
Revelations leaking out of Bank of America in the last few days, and Thain's departure today, alter his image -- perhaps irreparably. Observers now wonder how this quiet, smart overachiever could have shown such poor judgment. After all, this is a man who rose through the ranks at Goldman Sachs ( GS), turned around the New York Stock Exchange ( NYX) and merged it with Euronext and then had headhunters and corporate boards falling over themselves offering him numerous CEO spots. There are 5 puzzling decisions Thain has made in recent weeks that ended up being his undoing: