Understandably, the Lehman bankruptcy filing has been the biggest, most exciting news of this whole mess, but let’s not forget about High School Wrestling Team captain, John Thain, and Merrill Lynch’s miraculous 11th hour sell to Bank of America.

As this Associated Press report clarifies, when Lehman was considered too far gone, Bank of America pulled out of helping them in favor of partnering with the next head on the chopping block — Merrill:

The hasty 48-hour deal has its upsides and downsides. For one, it will expose BofA to the investment banking/securities/mortgages mess it is trying to avoid. That’s the reason behind the bank’s big stock decline today.

On the other hand, Merrill got a big premium on what Bank of America paid compared to what its stock was worth just a few days ago. Plus, CEO John Thain, who got a $15 million cash bonus for taking over Merrill just this past December, will be getting a pretty sweet $9.7 million payout in selling off to BofA. Not bad for just a few months of work.

What do you think is a better name for the new combined companies? Merrill of America, Bank of Lynch? American Lynchings? Merrillica’s Ofbank? The John Thain Love Machine?

Forbes: BofA Gets Risk Along With Rewards In Merrill, September 15, 2008

Reuters: Merrill CEO stands to college $9.7 million payout, September 15, 2008