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Pain of Thain Falls Mainly on Merrill

“I wouldn’t have taken the Merrill job,” he said in an interview. “I think that’s probably the single biggest thing.”

Mr. Thain’s comments are some of his sharpest yet about life as Merrill Lynch & Co.’s chairman and chief executive. He arrived at the securities firm's headquarters in lower Manhattan in late 2007 as the financial crisis was brewing. Within a year, Merrill was forced into a shotgun marriage with Bank of America Corp. A few months later, Mr. Thain was out.

“I regret having to sell Merrill Lynch to Bank of America,” he said.

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