No bonuses for Bank of America executives

Bank of America Corp. chief executive Ken Lewis has recommended that his board of directors award him and his top lieutenants no 2008 bonuses, saying the company's performance was “well below any of our expectations,” the Observer has learned.

The Charlotte bank joins a host of other financial institutions, including Wachovia, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, in eschewing bonuses for top executives in an atrocious year for the industry. Bank of America and other banks that received federal bailout money are under particular pressure to withhold yearend payouts.

Lewis told eight direct reports of his decision around the holidays and confirmed it in an e-mail sent to them Monday afternoon. A bank spokesman confirmed the authenticity of the e-mail. The recommendation needs board approval, which Lewis said was likely.

“This was a difficult decision because we have worked hard and made progress on many projects that will create value for our company in future years,” he said in the e-mail, citing the acquisitions of Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch as well as a successful LaSalle Bank integration. “Nonetheless, we are a pay for performance company.”

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