I'm outside Countrywide headquarters this morning, where employees have a mixture of relief and worry. Countrywide has already laid off 11,000 people, but it's certain that more will eventually have to go. Bank of America won't need everyone. This could affect everyone from bank tellers to the corporate pilots (Countrywide has not one but two Gulf Streams).
BofA CEO Ken Lewis says he will keep many top executives, because, even with all that's gone wrong in housing, he believes Countrywide knows mortgages better than anybody. But he also made it clear that under his watch, there will be no subprime loans.
So what does this mean for Countrywide CEO and co-founder Angelo Mozilo? Lewis says the two will talk next week, but he says, "Angelo has told me he will do anything we want him to do in terms of how long he stays." Lewis says he'd like Mozilo to stay until the deal closes in the third quarter, but, "Then probably I would guess that he would then want to go have some fun."
Mozilo, by the way, made a lot more money than Lewis last year, $48 million compared to $28 million. Can you imagine an executive continuing to make more than the CEO?
But what sort of farewell severance package might Mozilo get? He's already sold $145 million in stock over the last year, money he told our Maria Bartiromo was needed in part to help pay college costs for his grandkids.
But if he leaves Countrywide, The Los Angeles Times says his deal guarantees him three years' base salary plus a couple of pension plans, there's also a bonus formula, and he still has some stock options. It puts the total at $115 million. That ought to cover even the priciest Ivy League tab.