Economy

A year after Lewis debacle, Bank of America board meets in peace

Bank of America's board selected Chad Holliday Jr. as its new chairman, another sign that the bank is listening to critics who say it needs new blood.

Holliday, 62, joined the board only seven months ago as part of a government-influenced shakeup that axed a dozen members of the old guard over several months. Chief executive Brian Moynihan said in a statement that Holliday "brings excellent perspective" from his past role as CEO of a global company, chemical maker DuPont.

Holliday was elected by the other 12 members of the board of directors, and his chairmanship was announced shortly after the close of the annual shareholders meeting in Charlotte.

This year's meeting, Moynihan's first as CEO, proved calmer than last year's contentious gathering. Shareholders and activist groups praised the bank for consumer-friendly moves like modifying mortgages and getting rid of overdraft fees, though they also told Moynihan there is more work to be done. Some spoke about their frustrations in trying to get their own mortgages modified.

At last year's meeting, then-CEO Ken Lewis got an earful about the bank's $45 billion in government loans and its purchase of Merrill Lynch, and he was stripped of his role as chairman when shareholders voted that the chairman had to be independent. That vote was an unusually strong display of shareholder angst: It was the first — and so far, only — binding proposal on the subject to succeed at a public company, according to RiskMetrics Group.

That's when the board named Walter Massey, the retired president of Morehouse College, as the new chair. However, that didn't quell all the unhappy investors: Many complained that Massey, who had been on the board and a predecessor board for 16 years by then, couldn't bring the change that was needed.

Jon Finger, whose family's Houston investment led a "vote no" campaign against Lewis and other investors last year, said he was glad the bank had chosen an outsider as chairman this time around.

"This continues the path of improved governance at Bank of America," Finger said.

Read more of this story at CharlotteObserver.com

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