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Is Bank of America's Tom Montag Going to Oust Brian Moynihan?

Brian Moynihan
Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images
Brian Moynihan

If you dropped in on any of the usual Wall Street watering holes or eateries Wednesday night, you would have almost surely heard guys with well-pressed, open-collared shirts talking about Bank of America's Tom Montag.

Montag is the former Goldman Sachs executive who was recently named co-chief operating officer of Bank of America , along with David Darnell. Montag has a reputation as an extremely smart, ambitious, and wily executive. And everyone on Wall Street thinks he's going to take Brian Moynihan's job.

(That's an exaggeration, of course. Not "everyone" thinks that. I certainly didn't actually talk to everyone. And, certainly, the spokespeople will deny any such thing would ever happen. But it's an exaggeration with a point: This is as close to a universal opinion I've ever heard from Wall Streeters.)

At a tavern on Third Avenue called PJ Clarke's Wednedsay night you would have overheard veteran Wall Streeters talking in loud voices about how Montag was coming for Moynihan.

"Moynihan doesn't even know that he fired the wrong person. He won't know what hit him," said one person, referring to the recent firing of Sallie Krawcheck.

"Some of Montag's guys are already saying that Moynihan will be gone in a month," said a guy in a checked shirt and thin blue tie.

"Smart guys at Merrill are feeling out Montag now, trying to form an alliance. The Irish are deciding if they can live with him," a ruddy faced guy explained.

Uptown at the restaurant Campagnola, another favorite of the Wall Street set, there was more talk of the predicted battle between Montag and Moynihan.

"I think it was Montag that got Sallie out of the way, so now he can take the crown," a younger Wall Street guy speculated.

Someone claimed to have heard rumors of Krawcheck's departure as early as last Friday. And supposedly the rumors were coming from very senior management at Bank of America.

"Look. This wasn't done over the weekend. It's been in the works for a while. I just don't think anyone told Sallie," said a guy at a table near the back of Campagnola.

"Here's your headline: Goldman takes over Bank of America and Merrill Lynch," another person said to a journalist at the table.

Of course, everyone insisted that the journalist not use their names.

If you watched closely as people talked about Montag and Moynihan, you could catch a hint of eager anticipation. There's nothing people love so much as a power struggle. And just about everyone on Wall Street thinks the struggle to control Bank of America has already begun.

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