Bank of America's departing CEO defends his actions

Charlotte ObserverNovember 10, 2009 

In one of his last speeches as chief executive of Bank of America Corp., Ken Lewis defended his time in the top office, saying history will show that his actions as CEO were profitable in the long run.

“It is easy to let the short-term difficulties obscure one's long-term views,” said Lewis, who is stepping down at the end of the year over criticism of his Merrill Lynch & Co. purchase. “I have always thought that a CEO's job is not only to navigate what shoals immediately stand in the way but also to steadfastly maintain a long term vision for the enterprise.”

Lewis, the CEO since 2001, said he believes his actions “have been true to this principle.”

“I am confident history will show that our actions in operating and building Bank of America positioned our company for future success,” he added. “As I look ahead, I see no reason that Bank of America will not be among the handful of the most important and most successful financial services companies in the world.”

Lewis, speaking at a convention for analysts and investors in New York, did not take questions at the end of his half-hour presentation, with his presenter citing “other commitments.” His remarks about his own tenure came at the end of the presentation; for most of the speech, he stuck to familiar topics such as the bank's diverse business mix. He praised Bank of America's “supermarket” strategy, encompassing investment banking and consumer services, as a way to build economies of scale and survive any type of economy. With the purchases of mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp. and investment bank Merrill Lynch, “all the pieces are now in place,” he said.

“It is easy to let the short-term difficulties obscure one's long-term views,” said Lewis, who is stepping down at the end of the year over criticism of his Merrill Lynch & Co. purchase. “I have always thought that a CEO's job is not only to navigate what shoals immediately stand in the way but also to steadfastly maintain a long term vision for the enterprise.”

Read the complete story at charlotteobserver.com

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