Bank of America Corp named 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.
The former DuPont Co
At Bank of America's 2010 annual meeting earlier in the day, shareholders peppered new Chief Executive Brian Moynihan with complaints, but also lavished him and the company with praise in his first annual meeting as the company's top executive.
The meeting stood in stark contrast to Bank of America's 2009 annual meeting, when then-CEO Kenneth Lewis and the bank's management team saw intense shareholder outrage over purchasing Merrill Lynch, slashing its dividend and receiving $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, approving a shareholder proposal to allow those with a 10 percent holding in the bank to call a special meeting. The proposal was nearly approved by Bank of America shareholders last year.
The meeting comes weeks after the bank reported its first profit since summer 2009, beating analysts' expectations and showing signs its credit problems may have reached a peak.
Over the course of the nearly three-hour-long 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 that 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 have been its harshest critics.
Michael Calhoun, president and chief operating officer for the Center for Responsible Lending, praised the bank's efforts to curb debit card overdraft fees ahead of new federal regulations take effect.
This is a really big deal, he said.
Calhoun's Durham, North Carolina-based organization has complained bitterly about consumer lending practices across the financial sector.
Shareholders also approved the bank's 13 board nominees. Bank of America has appointed nine new directors since early last year in response to shareholder and government pressure in a board shake-up after the company reported billions of dollars in losses tied to its acquisition of Merrill Lynch & Co Inc.
Once the annual meeting adjourned around midday, directors convened a board meeting to select a replacement for retiring chairman Massey.
Shareholders at the meeting, held at the Belk Theater of the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, voted on seven shareholder proposals in total, six of which they rejected. The rejected proposals included an advisory vote on executive compensation, an annual so-called say on pay and a proposal that the board should adopt and publicize a succession planning policy.
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.
The largest U.S. bank also wants to have more certainty about the economic outlook before it increases its payout to shareholders, he said.
Moynihan, who became CEO at the start of the year, 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 were up 25 cents or 1.4 percent at $17.72 on Wednesday afternoon. The broader KBW Banks Index <.BKX> was up 1.2 percent.
(Reporting by Joe Rauch in Charlotte, additional reporting by Elinor Comlay in New York; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)