How big should Stan's payoff be?

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Stan O'Neal is on his way out. Does he really deserve a $100m+ exit package?

With Merrill's share price down 44% since January and bonuses on track to fall 25% on last year (according to Reuters), does O'Neal deserve anything in the way of a payoff?

According to the

Wall Street Journal

, O'Neal is embroiled in discussions to negotiate an exit package that could exceed $160m. This includes stock options and the eventual vesting of restricted shares.

O'Neal is not entitled to anything in the way of cash severance, says the paper, but would have gained an additional $29.5m if the merger with Wachovia had gone ahead and he'd lost his job as a result of it.

Writing in the Financial Times today, Abigail Hofman, a former investment banker at Merrill, says the manner of O'Neal's exit is odious and that he shouldn't be forced out after a single bad quarter.

Do you agree? And do you think O'Neal should walk away with anything given that Merrill's bankers look set to be paid worse than even Citi's this year?

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