Barry Ritholtz writes:
The Big Picture | Why Thain Over Fink?: Here's something you may not have heard: The surprise selection of NYSE CEO John Thain as Merrill's new CEO over the more widely expected BlackRock CEO Larry Fink was based on reasons you may not be aware of. What are those reasons? Well, according to CNBC.com, Fink would only agree to take the position if Merrill was willing to give a full and complete accounting of it's subprime exposure:
Merrill's selection of Thain was a surprise because the firm had recently indicated to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink that the job was his if he wanted it. CNBC has learned that Fink said he would take the job but only if Merrill did a full accounting of its subprime exposure. At that point, Merrill, which owns 49% of BlackRock, moved in a different direction and decided to go with Thain instead.
I obviously have no way to verify that, but I give the benefit of the doubt to CNBC reporters like Charlie Gasparino and Herb Greenberg. (UPDATE: I have just confirmed with Charlie Gasparino that he was the one who's fine investigative work uncovered this; You can see some of the discussion via CNBC video here, right margin, labeled "The New Bull at Merrill").
Note: I don't know who uncovered this.
If the story is true, and Fink passed on the position (or was passed over) because of his insistence on a complete sub-prime accounting, apparently not accommodated by Merrill, it makes one wonder what the old lady is hiding.