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Robert Trigaux

Maybe BofA Ken Lewis is calling it quits because he's tired of being Washington's punching bag




So Ken Lewis, CEO of Bank of America and one-time regional bank executive for Tampa Bay, is calling it a day and retiring at the end of this year. Here's his letter to employees.

States Lewis: "Some will suggest that I am leaving under pressure or because of questions regarding the Merrill deal. I will simply say that this was my decision, and mine alone."

The media is going bonkers speculating on the wretched year Lewis has had dealing with the federal government's inquiries into the shotgun-wedding deal that merged Merrill Lynch into BofA last fall during the Wall Street meltdown.

Today's Wall Street Journal features a story with the headline "A Succession Mess at Bank of America" KenLewisBofACEO2009AP  while trumpets "BofA's Problems Won't Depart With Lewis."  Rochdale Securities bank analyst Dick Bove, based in Lutz, told Fox Business in this video report that Lewis is one of the industry's better leaders and losing him is a "significant blow."

Who might succeed Lewis? Bove says Brian T. Moynihan, BofA's president of consumer and small business banking, may have a good crack at it. But Bove's choice is BofA veteran Barbara J. Desoer, currently president of the company's home loans and insurance division.

I have a simpler explanation why Lewis is retiring. Above, on the left, is Ken Lewis in 1987. On the right is Ken Lewis (in Washington by the way) in 2009. Need I say more?

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:26am]


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