Ken Lewis: Halfway out

By Felix Salmon
April 29, 2009

I’m very glad that after the literally ridiculous performance he put on today, BofA’s Ken Lewis has been stripped of his job as chairman. Annual meetings are largely theatre, of course: the important votes have all been cast long before the meeting takes place. But with Lewis still saying with a straight face that the acquisitions of both Countrywide and Merrill Lynch were a really good idea, I can’t see how the principle of shareholders (as opposed to the CEO) electing the chairman could really survive Lewis’s re-election.

For the time being, Lewis remains as CEO, but that’s up to the board, which presumably now will take succession planning much more seriously than it has done hereunto. If and when a viable candidate for CEO emerges, I doubt Lewis will stay in charge for long.

6 comments

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Even if his performance had been more credible, I’m glad to see the Chairman job split from the CEO’s.

Truthfully, I have no dog in the fight, but I can tell you that as long as BofA is associated with Charlotte/McColl, Ken Lewis will be around until retirement.

I’m sure you’re probably one of the very many that wishes BofA would just go away. I’m sure this has something to do with the fact you probably are in debt to the bank and think by making BofA go away your monthly payments, too, will disappear.

With that being said- I think the company will probably end up thanking their lucky stars that the roles were split (maybe not). This way, investors will feel that Ken can further focus all his energies on getting BofA back on the right track.

Posted by Stop Hatin On Lewis | Report as abusive

Hope Lewis push-out soon, as he did a very bad job and make all share holder lost a lot of monay!

Posted by chimbros | Report as abusive

Its sad that Ken Lewis has been caught up in this. He obviously thought it was a good deal to acquire Countrywide and Merryil Lynch. Its a hihg stakes game! Think what would have happened had these deals turned out right!

Posted by Chris | Report as abusive

You have to have been living in a cave to believe that the countrywide deal could have turned out better than the disaster it was. At the time, there where numorous bits of info all over the blogoshphere by ex-anlaysts and credit specialists stating that Countrywide was the sickest of the sub-prime zombies. They where going down the tube fast.

Amazingly Bofa made very little attempt to cut a tough deal with what was obviuosly a desperate countrywide board. $44 billion was massive over payment, and in retrospect even zero, for all that toxic poison would have been bad.

The point is this guy was gambling at the time, shooting from the hip. He is paid tens of millions to be astute at analysing risk. Moreover he has many highly educated very expensive experts around him to feed him the information and intelligence he requires to make intelligent decisions.

The facts are that had Ken Lewis been a mid-level BoFa loan manager and made these kinds of mistakes he would have been chewed up and spat out by his superiors long ago. It is just at the top that hese extrodinary double standards apply.

Posted by nyongesa | Report as abusive

From Wikipedia re the China melamine baby milk scandal.
“On 22 January 2009 Tian was sentenced to life imprisonment, while other Sanlu executives received sentences of five to fifteen years. Two other men were sentenced to death.”
I guess some “Masters of the Universe” are glad they are in the USA.
Another competitive advantage for China when too much power brings too much corruption ?

Posted by Survivor? | Report as abusive