On Tuesday an activist Bank of America Corp investor said he expects shareholders to demand that Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis give up his job as chairman.
Jonathan Finger said Lewis and other senior bank officials rebuffed reforms, including appointing an independent chairman that he and his father, Jerry, proposed in three meetings in the Fingers' offices in Houston. The meetings followed the bank's troubled purchase of Merrill Lynch & Co, Reuters reported.
The proposal to divide the chairman and CEO roles won support from 36 percent of stockholders last year. This segregation is a boost to the board as well as the independence of management.
The proposal is again on the agenda for Bank of America's April 29 annual meeting.
The item to split the chairman and the CEO, I think that's a done deal, Jonathan Finger, 49, said in an interview.
Management almost conceded that to us in our meetings, that they sort of felt like that was going to happen.
The item to split the chairman and the CEO, I think that's a done deal, Jonathan Finger, 49, said in an interview. Management almost conceded that to us in our meetings, that they sort of felt like that was going to happen.
Lewis, 62, has been chairman for most of his eight years as CEO. The bank opposes naming an independent chair.
The Finger family controls about 1.1 million shares of the bank. Jerry Finger used to run Charter Bancshares Inc, which Bank of America predecessor NationsBank acquired in 1996.
The Fingers are calling on shareholders to vote against re-electing Lewis, lead outside director.
The Fingers also want to see Lewis separately replaced as CEO, preferably by an outsider. Any good professional manager can do a fine job with the company, Jerry Finger, 76, said. It truly is a great franchise.
Since the acquisition of the Merrill, Bank of America shares have fallen by more than two-thirds on September 15.
The purchase, for $29.1 billion of common and preferred stock, closed on January 1.
The bank offered a 70 percent premium over Merrill's stock price, saving Merrill from possible collapse following Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc's bankruptcy the same day.
But the Fingers said Bank of America overpaid, and in a lawsuit said it hurt shareholders with the acquisition.