Lewis Says BofA Poised for Growth

Bank of America (BofA) Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis was forced out of his role as chairman and will be replaced by Walter Massey.

At the company’s annual meeting, a shareholder proposal was approved to change the company’s by-laws to require an independent chairman, according to a release from BofA. Lewis will remain chief executive.

Lewis faced pressure from shareholders after BofA has been scrutinized for its acquisition of Merrill Lynch (see “Some BofA Shareholders Want Lewis Out’). BofA is under investigation for $3.6 billion in bonuses doled out to Merrill Lynch executives in the final hour before Merrill was acquired by BofA (see “Cuomo Says Merrill Accelerated Bonus Payments’ and “Merrill Executives Supoenaed in Bonus Probe’).

During the meeting, Lewis defended the acquisition of Merrill. According to the release, he said the company’s long-term vision for profitable growth is being advanced by the acquisitions of both Merrill and Countrywide Financial Corp., despite the challenging economic environment.

“Merrill will help the company move toward its goal of developing stronger, deeper, and more profitable customer relationships over the long term through its leading positions in capital markets and wealth management,” Lewis said. “My strong feeling is that organizational integration—and a renewed focus on organic growth—will be the almost exclusive focus of our efforts in the coming years.’