State News

Bank of America CEO Lewis leaving by year's end

Posted September 30, 2009 5:29 p.m. EDT
Updated September 30, 2009 5:55 p.m. EDT

Bank of America

— Bank of America Corp. says its embattled CEO Ken Lewis will retire from the bank by the end of the year.

The bank has issued a statement Wednesday saying Lewis would also leave the board of the bank.

Lewis and Bank of America have been the targets of intense criticism since the bank agreed to buy Merrill Lynch & Co. at the height of the financial crisis last year. Since the deal closed Jan. 1, it was learned that Merrill, with the knowledge of Bank of America executives, gave billions of dollars in bonuses to employees even as it asked for more bailout money from the government.

The bank's board ousted him as chairman in April but allowed him to remain as chief executive.

"Bank of America is well positioned to meet the continuing challenges of the economy and markets," Lewis said in the statement. "I am particularly heartened by the results that are emerging from the decisions and initiatives of the difficult past year-and-a-half."

Merrill Lynch and Countryside Mortgage, another highly criticized acquisition by the bank, are being integrated into Bank of America and are generating positive returns, he said. The bank also will soon begin repaying federal bailout money, he said.

"Ken Lewis was a key architect in building a truly global financial franchise," Bank of America Chairman Walter E. Massey said in the statement. "We are on a solid path to the future. The board will be moving in a deliberate and expeditious manner to select a worthy successor to Ken Lewis."