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BoA CEO Leaving

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Bank of America Corp.’s chief executive officer has had enough.

An announcement today from the Charlotte, N.C.-based institution indicated that Ken Lewis will step down as CEO on Dec. 31. He will also step down from the board of directors.

In April, Lewis was stripped of his chairman title.

BoA Chairman Walter E Massey called Lewis “a key architect in building a truly global financial franchise” in the statement.

Massey noted that “the board will be moving in a deliberate and expeditious manner to select a worthy successor.”

Lewis started his BoA career in 1969 as a credit analyst at NCNB, which subsequently acquired the then San Francisco-based BoA. He ascended to the role of CEO in April 2001.

He oversaw the bank during the one of the industry’s most catastrophic periods.

photo of Ken Lewis
BoA photo of Ken Lewis

Lewis stepped up to the plate last year when Countrywide Financial Corp. — then the biggest U.S. mortgage lender — faced an uncertain future. At the time, the former lending giant became the target of politicians, pundits and reporters — who seemed to blame the Calabasas, Calif.-based company for all of the world’s economic problems. But BoA, under Lewis’s tutelage, moved forward with the acquisition of the company.

That acquisition was followed by an agreement to acquire Merrill Lynch. But as that deal drew nearer to a close and massive losses were revealed at Merrill, Lewis decided to back out of the transaction. However, faced with all the pressure the U.S. government could muster up and the potential for collapse of worldwide financial markets, Lewis backed down went through with the acquisition.

The Merrill transaction seemed like an impossible situation given his loyalty to both the financial markets and to BoA shareholders.

“The Merrill Lynch and Countrywide integrations are on track and returning value already,” Lewis stated in today’s announcement.

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