CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Bank of America's board has selected Brian Moynihan as the bank's new chief executive, spokesman Bob Stickler said late Wednesday.
Moynihan, previously the bank's consumer banking head, will have his office in Charlotte and the bank will remain headquartered in Charlotte, Stickler said.
After Bank of New York Mellon Corp. chief executive Bob Kelly dropped out of the running on Monday, Bank of America Corp.'s board was expected to choose from two internal candidates — Moynihan and chief risk officer Greg Curl — to replace departing CEO Ken Lewis.
Lewis, 62, announced Sept. 30 that he was stepping down at year's end, ending a four-decade career at the company amid mounting criticism of his Jan. 1 Merrill Lynch & Co. acquisition. The search for his replacement, led by a six-director committee, dragged on longer than many expected, entering its 11th week on Wednesday.
The bank's choice for CEO has been seen as critical to Charlotte because it raised uncertainty about the future location of the headquarters. Returning the bank to health is also critical to a city that last year saw Charlotte-based Wachovia Corp. sold to Wells Fargo & Co.
Moynihan and Curl were identified as top inside candidates early on, but the board also approached a number of outside candidates first, including BlackRock Inc. CEO Larry Fink, Citigroup director Mike O'Neill and Barclays president Bob Diamond. Monday was the second time that Kelly told BNY Mellon colleagues that he wasn't interested in the post.
The new CEO takes over a bank that has been much transformed since Lewis took over in 2001. It's filled out its U.S. footprint, become a credit card and mortgage giant and is now much more reliant on capital markets and international business following the Merrill deal.
The new leader will have a number of hurdles to face, including the impression that he wasn't the board's first choice for the job. A number of large investors have also pressed for an outsider, citing the need for a fresh start at the bank.
While Bank of America took an important step this month by paying back its $45 billion in government aid, it's still wrestling with consumer loan losses, facing increasing regulation of its business and dealing with the ongoing political backlash for the bank's role in the nation's financial crisis. Legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate even calls for breaking apart financial conglomerates that combine commercial banking and capital markets operations.
Moynihan, 50, is a lawyer by training. He joined a FleetBoston predecessor in the early '90s as deputy counsel, then moved into finance jobs.
By 2004, when Bank of America bought FleetBoston, Moynihan was in charge of the brokerage and wealth management unit. He held virtually the same job at the combined new bank, and stayed in Boston. The unit, and hundreds of bank leaders, moved there.
In 2007, Moynihan was put in charge of the investment bank and charged with cleaning it up. The next year, Lewis put him in charge of leading the integration with Merrill.
In August, in another management shakeup that Lewis orchestrated, Moynihan was named head of consumer banking.
At a hearing last month in front of a House committee that is investigating the Merrill deal, Rep. Elijah Cummings asked if Moynihan was going to be the new CEO.
Cummings, a Maryland Democrat and heavy critic of the bank, said; "I'm trying to figure out: Is this the guy we've got to face when we are trying to deal with Bank of America . . . ?"
The selection of the new CEO caps a turbulent year for the bank, its employees and its shareholders.
Early last December, Bank of America launched deep job cuts as it absorbed Merrill Lynch, hitting Charlotte employees harder than in past acquisitions. This spring, after the bank had accepted more government aid to close the purchase, the bank's shares plunged into the single digits amid fears large U.S. banks might be nationalized. The stock rallied, but with investigations of the Merrill deal mounting, Lewis disclosed his retirement plans on Sept. 30. In a surprise move this month, he was able to announce the bank's plan to pay back the aid.
The bank's struggle to name a new CEO contrasts with a long-standing tradition of smoothly handing the top job to the next generation. Lewis became CEO at the bank's 2001 shareholder's meeting after serving as president beneath Hugh McColl Jr. and winning a horse race with chief financial officer Jim Hance.
Kelly, a former Wachovia Corp. chief financial officer, emerged as a front runner for the post in recent days but an agreement couldn't be reached with the board. A source familiar with the matter said compensation was a sticking point, but a BNY Mellon spokesman has said pay was not a top priority.
Kelly also raised the idea of maintaining dual headquarters in Charlotte and New York, sources told the Observer. He found it important to be in New York during the financial crisis, with access to regulators and other officials, one person familiar with the matter said. He also was reluctant to move after relocating his family multiple times in the past decade.
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