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Calpers, Calstrs oppose joint CEO-chairman role at Bank of America

Two of America's biggest public pension funds have come together to oppose an amendment of bylaws at Bank of America that would allow Brian Moynihan to continue as both chief executive and chairman of the No. 2 U.S. bank by assets.

The California Public Employees' Retirement System (Calpers) and the California State Teachers' Retirement System (Calstrs) sent a letter on Monday to the bank's lead director, Jack Bovender, saying that the roles of CEO and chair of the board have inherent conflicts which require the two posts to be separate.

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The funds wrote that since Moynihan was appointed CEO, the bank has underperformed and that it needs stronger, more independent oversight and not less.

Brian Moynihan
Pete Marovich | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Brian Moynihan

Calstrs and Calpers together hold less than 1 percent of the total shares outstanding in Bank of America.

"We believe the Board's rationale for making this change is fundamentally flawed and we disagree with many assertions made in the Special Meeting proxy," the funds wrote. They also said the company has never provided a valid business rationale for combining the roles.

Bank of America was not available for comment outside regular U.S. business hours.

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The board of directors in October unilaterally changed the company bylaws to allow CEO Brian Moynihan to become chairman.

In May, just two days before the annual shareholder meeting, the company said it would hold a shareholder vote on the change, to be held no later than 2016. That vote will be held at a Sept. 22 special shareholder meeting.

Bank of America had combined the roles of chairman and chief executive until 2009, when shareholders voted to strip then chief executive Ken Lewis of his chairman title. Investors had objected to his decision to acquire Merrill Lynch at the peak of the financial crisis.