Beleaguered Bank of America Corp said Chief Executive Ken Lewis will retire by year's end and his successor is yet to be determined, the bank announced late Wednesday.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America's board will continue evaluating potential successors, a company announcement said.

A Bank of America spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Lewis, 62, ran Bank of America for nearly a decade, succeeding his mentor Hugh McColl in 2001. After being named to the top spot, he proceeded to build one of the nation's largest financial services companies through aggressive acquisitions.

But in the last year, Lewis was the subject of rising political criticism, along with federal and state investigations into the bank's acquisition of Merrill Lynch & Co in late 2008 and early 2009.

He had previously announced hopes of retiring after the bank repaid $45 billion in government assistance, or when he hit the company's mandatory retirement age of 65.

(Reporting by Joe Rauch; Editing Bernard Orr)