Week one for new B of A chief
12:00 pm
Tue January 5, 2010

Week one for new B of A chief

This is Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan's first full week on the job. His tenure started off with a speech Monday to a friendly audience at the annual Economic Forum hosted by the North Carolina Bankers Association, but the rest of the way may not be as smooth. WFAE's Simone Orendain has more:
Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan has spent his first few days on the job driving home the fact that the financial services industry grew much too fast in the past decade and became unmanageable. He says there was too much lending, too much borrowing and everyone overleveraged. He says this in an op-ed piece in Monday's Charlotte Observer and also in his speech at the economic forum in Raleigh.

In the speech that aired on News-14 Carolina, Moynihan said the bank would "never again" be in a position to take federal bailout money. He also said he wants to dispel criticism over the bank's acquisition of the troubled investment giant Merrill Lynch.

"We are more concerned, however, with the view that somehow the integration of capital markets with commercial banking is flawed, a flawed structure for companies in the financial services industry," he said. "It simply is not. It represents what our customers want from us as an industry. The business success we're having with our new partners at Merrill Lynch provides a case in point."

Although Merrill came to Bank of America after posting $27 billion in losses in 2008, the bank still posted earnings for three of four quarters in the last year. The bank says the marriage has made it an investment powerhouse.

Still shareholders like CtW Investment Group, which owns 1.2 million shares in B of A are leery of new leadership. CtW was one of the most vocal critics of the merger and succeeded in helping strip then CEO Ken Lewis of his role as chairman of the board. CtW Investment Strategist Mike Garland says there's a lot to clean up after.

"In terms of turning the bank around, it's performance. It's repairing relationships both with shareholders and regulators and breaking from the past, in terms of the culture. As an insider, that's going to be particularly difficult for Moynihan," says Garland.

Moynihan was the bank's general counsel during the Merrill Lynch merger talks. Now he's head of the bank which faces a lawsuit from the Securities and Exchange Commission over shareholder disclosure issues related to the merger. Meanwhile, the New York Attorney General's office continues its own investigation into the same issues and lawmakers are hammering out tighter regulations of the financial industry.

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