Lewis Pushed Out Because of Witch Hunt: Bove
Web Producer, CNBC.com
Ken Lewis is the victim of a witch hunt and he should have stayed on at the helm of Bank of America, Dick Bove, banking analyst at Rochdale Securities, told CNBC Thursday.
Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis told the board he plans to step down by the end of the year and sources told CNBC he wasn't asked to step down and the decision was not the result of any regulatory action.
"The guy has been phenomenally good… to push him out now because of a witch hunt is totally inappropriate," Bove told "Squawk Box."
The decision to buy Merrill Lynch and the price of the transaction were appropriate, despite criticism directed at Lewis, because Merrill will add more than $20 billion in revenue to Bank of America over the next year, Bove said. But many analysts said the transaction should have been done at a smaller price.
"If you want thousands of people at Merrill Lynch to be fired… if you want Merrill Lynch to move its focus to North Carolina or London, that's correct. If you want Merrill Lynch to keep its focus on New York you pay that kind of price that you paid," Bove said.
Bank of America now has 14,000 sales people selling financial products and has a dominant position all over the world in financial markets, he said.
Bove said he would like to see Barbara Desoer, president of Bank of America Mortgage, Home Equity and Insurance Services, as the next chief executive.
He also mentioned general counsel Brian Moynihan, president of Global Corporate and Investment Banking at Bank of America.