Bank of America CEO Lewis RetiresEmbattles Leader to Leave at Year's End Bank of America's Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis has told the institution's board he will retire, effective Dec. 31. Lewis' successor has not been named. But Bank of America's board of directors says it will have one in place by year's end.
"The Merrill Lynch and Countrywide integrations are on track and returning value already," Lewis states in a written statement released on Wednesday. "Our board of directors and our senior management include more talent, and more diversity of talent, than at any time in this company's history. We are in position to begin to repay the federal government's TARP investments. For these reasons, I decided now is the time to begin to transition to the next generation of leadership at Bank of America."
Lewis became head of the bank in April 2001. His path to the dual CEO and Chairman positions began when he joined North Carolina National Bank as an analyst in 1969. NCNB was the predecessor to NationsBank and BofA.
The role of chairman was taken from him in April after a close shareholder vote at the annual meeting. The bank's board appointed Walter Massey as the new chairman. The embattled Lewis had faced serious criticism from investors, regulators and Congress after the bank's acquisition of Merrill Lynch late in 2008, despite discovering massive losses at the brokerage company. At the same time, it let Merrill pay $5 billion in bonuses before the deal was closed.
The SEC says it is investigating the bank's moves during the merger, charging it misled shareholders about the bonuses when it purchased the brokerage.
Lewis has yet to turn over documents to a Congressional committee on the Merrill deal, and New York's Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is hotly pursuing charges related to the deal. Cuomo's office says the Lewis retirement announcement will not stop the AG's case.