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Thain to Repay Bank of America for $1.2M Office Renovations

Appearing on CNBC moments ago, fired Bank of America/Merrill Lynch top exec John Thain, embarrassed last week by the revelation that he charged Merrill $1.22 million to renovate his office last February, said he will repay the bank out of his own pocket.

Thain had been head of Merrill Lynch. As the financial services crash escalated and Merrill found itself in trouble, Thain engineered a $28 billion merger with Bank of America last fall. But he and BofA chief Ken Lewis clashed, and Thain left last week.

Since then, it leaked out that Thain spent Merrill's money lavishly to redecorate his office, two conference rooms and a reception area, hiring a celebrity designer and spending $1,400 on a wastebasket.

"It's clear to me in today's world that it was a mistake. I apologize for spending that money on those things, and I will make it right," Thain told CNBC's Maria Bartiromo. "I will reimburse the company."

Tales of corporate spending excess are common, from Dennis Kozlowski's $2 million toga-themed party for his wife to his $6,000 shower curtain. Such spending is as incomprehensible to us as our spending $500 on a Crate & Barrel chair probably is to an impoverished Bangladeshi.

Thain told Bartiromo that it was a different time when he charged his company for the renovations -- all the way back in February.

"Remember, this was started in December of '07," he said. "Financial institutions hadn't melted down yet. I had every expectation that Merrill would be a large, successful company and the office renovations would be used by me for many years in the future."

-- Frank Ahrens
The Ticker is Twittering!

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 26, 2009; 4:57 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Thain  
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