Bank of America Corp named DuPont's long-time chief executive, Charles Holliday, as its chairman on Wednesday, hours after the largest U.S. consumer bank concluded its 2010 annual meeting.
Holliday -- the second chairman for the bank in as many years -- succeeds Walter Massey, who retired from the board after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 72.
Holliday, 62, said he supports the company's new focus on global growth as it aims to expand in emerging international markets.
I have an understanding of the global role this company needs to play, Holliday told Reuters in an interview.
He becomes the second chairman for the bank in as many years, after former Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis lost the chairman's role at last year's contentious annual meeting.
The appointment is a rapid ascension for Holliday, and is intended to solidify Bank of America's management team after a year of turmoil.
Holliday joined the board in September 2009 during an overhaul of the bank's board, spurred by shareholder outrage and governmental scrutiny. The bank has named nine new directors since early last year.
A long-time chemical industry executive with little experience in the financial sector, Holliday said he will rely on other directors' deep financial expertise -- like former FDIC chairman Donald Powell -- as he acclimates himself.
Bank of America Chief Executive Brian Moynihan said Holliday was approved by a unanimous board vote, and was strongly supported by the bank's other directors.
Chad has a lot to rely on, Moynihan said.
Holliday spent 40 years at DuPont Co
Chemical industry analysts described him as an aggressive executive with his share of hits and misses as DuPont's top executive, but largely lauded within the chemical sector.
He was the one who, when he became CEO in 1999, said, 'We've got to totally transform this company. We've got to sell off a bunch of stuff, buy other stuff' and really raised the return-on-investment bar for what businesses belong here, said Dan Ortwerth, chemicals analyst with Edward Jones.
He definitely has a free-enough thinking mind to put everything on the chopping block and decide what's worthy and what's not, Ortwerth said. Whether he does that at Bank of America, I don't know.
Analysts also said Holliday understands the importance of winning friends on Capitol Hill -- something Bank of America struggled with in recent years.
He stayed close to Washington during his term as CEO, which should put him in good stead as BofA bounces back from the financial crisis, said Mark Gulley, a chemical analyst with Gulley & Associates LLC.
Holliday said he would let the bank's management team handle relations with regulators and legislators in the nation's capital, and did not expect to take an active role.
But he said he supported Moynihan's stance on the need for financial reform.
The points Brian has been making are exactly right, in my book, Holliday said.
Earlier in the day, shareholders peppered Moynihan with complaints, but also lavished him and the company with praise in his first annual meeting as CEO.
The meeting stood in stark contrast to Bank of America's 2009 annual meeting, when then-CEO Lewis and the bank's management team saw intense shareholder outrage over the purchase of Merrill Lynch, the slashing of its dividend and the receiving of $45 billion in U.S. government aid after posting its first losses in nearly two decades.
At that meeting, shareholders voted to remove Lewis as chairman of the bank's board. He retired as CEO at the end of the year.
This year, shareholders rejected all but one of seven shareholder proposals at the meeting. They approved a shareholder proposal to allow those with a 10 percent holding in the bank to call a special meeting. The same proposal was nearly approved at last year's meeting.
The rejected proposals included an advisory vote on executive compensation, an annual say on pay and a proposal that the board adopt and publicize a succession-planning policy.
Over the course of the nearly three-hour meeting, Moynihan tried to address shareholders' concerns about the bank's 1-cent-a-share quarterly dividend as well as complaints about glitches in the bank's mortgage modification process that have forced some customers out of their homes.
But shareholders also heard from clients and investors who reported the bank had helped them stay in their homes and had reduced their mortgage payments. Those statements were met with wide applause from the crowd of hundreds that included both Bank of America employees and shareholders.
Those lauding the bank's efforts included some who had been its harshest critics.
Michael Calhoun, president and chief operating officer of the Center for Responsible Lending, praised the bank's efforts to curb debit card overdraft fees ahead of new federal regulations.
Calhoun's Durham, North Carolina-based organization has complained bitterly about consumer lending practices across the financial sector.
In his address to shareholders at the start of the meeting, Moynihan said the bank is not likely to raise its dividend until it has reported several quarters of earnings and has a clearer picture of how much capital banks may be required to hold in the future.
Bank of America also wants to have more certainty about the economic outlook before it increases its payout to shareholders, he said.
Moynihan also said he believes the company's first-quarter earnings represent less than half its possible profit on a normalized basis. Earlier in the month, the bank reported first-quarter net income of $2.83 billion.
Responding to a shareholder question about the Securities and Exchange Commission charges against Goldman Sachs Group Inc , Moynihan said the bank has reviewed its structured debt activities and is satisfied with the business.
Shares of Bank of America closed up 31 cents or 1.77 percent at $17.78 on Wednesday. The broader KBW Banks Index <.BKX> closed up 1.36 percent.
(Reporting by Joe Rauch in Charlotte, additional reporting by Elinor Comlay and Ernest Scheyder in New York; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Phil Berlowitz and Matthew Lewis)