Last night Merrill Lynch filed a proxy statement with the SEC, outlining the terms of Bank of America’s proposed takeover of the firm. Merrill leaned on shareholders to pull the lever in favor of the deal, told them their “vote is very important” and shed more light on how the deal came about. According to the statement, both Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were in the running to combine forces with Merrill before the deal was struck, and Merrill’s decision to accept the BofA offer left Lehman—which was also looking to Bank of America for a last-minute rescue—out in the cold, with its bankruptcy filing flappping in the wind.
Also last night, during halftime of Monday Night Football’s matchup between the Steelers and Redskins, ESPN aired brief interviews with Senators McCain and Obama (who are going to head-to-head in that little thing called a presidential election as I type). Legendary commentator Chris Berman asked both candidates just a few questions, one about the best advice they ever received “in the world of sports.” Though the candidates’ answers weren’t controversial or very profound, their responses highlighted a very important interview tactic: staying on point even when fielding questions that seem to veer off-point.
In his answer, McCain cited advice he received from his JV high school football coach: “Always do the honorable thing even when nobody’s looking,” which was an obvious double underline to his days as a POW in Vietnam, an experience that’s been integral throughout his campaign. Meanwhile, Obama cited advice given to him by his high school basketball coach (“who was cut from the same cloth as Bobby Knight”): “It’s not about you, it’s about the team,” which clearly emphasized the inclusiveness he’s focused on during his campaign—most apparent in his continual use of the first person plural, “we,” as in “Yes We Can.”
(Berman also asked the candidates what they’d most like to change about sports, and in his answer, John Just Say No McCain called for more regulations against performance-enhancing drugs (on the playing field), while Barack Computer Rankings Are Bunk Obama called for a playoff system to determine a national champion in NCAA college football.)
Speaking of interviews, today The Deal reported that ex-Goldman chief turned Senator turned Governor of New Jersey Jon Corzine might soon be fielding questions (if he hasn't already) in regards to his ability to succeed fellow Goldman Sachs alumnus Hank Paulson as U.S. Treasury Secretary. An Obama win at the polls, according to The Deal, could mean another Goldmanite will be taking the Treasury reins.
As for Goldman itself, a Merrill analyst predicts that the firm known to lay golden eggs is about to lay some extremely less than precious ones, saying Goldman is on track to post its first-ever quarterly loss as a public company (it went public in 1999), which certainly does not bode well for Goldman insiders. Negative fourth-quarter income, if true, will likely result in even more reductions in expenses, meaning more heads will be moved to the chopping block. (Already, the firm is likely following its competitors in just saying no to holiday boozing.)