BofA Board Member May Take Over As CEO for Year: Sources

Replacing Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis is proving to be trickier than just promoting an internal candidate.


While six Bank of America employees were tapped as being possible successors to Lewis, sources close to the matter told CNBC that BofA will most likely have an interim CEO for about a year.

The two main contenders are Bank of America board members Charles Gifford and William Boardman.

Gifford served as BofA's chairman from April 2004 to January 2005. Prior to that, he was the former head of FleetBoston, starting in 2002.

Boardman is the former vice chairman of Banc One Corporation and was chairman of Visa International from 1996 until 2005.

Bank of America executives Thomas Montag, President of Global Banking & Markets; Barbara DeSoer, President of Home Loans & Insurance; Sallie Krawcheck, Global Wealth President; Brian Moynihan, President of Consumer & Small Business Banking; Chief Financial Officer Joe Price; and Greg Curl, Chief Risk Officer are not completely out of the picture in the long run, the sources said.

However, the BofA board and government officials believe that the six internal candidates need more experience before running one of the biggest financial companies in the world. The government is exercising its influence over the CEO replacement because of the TARP funds it received from the Treasury.

Sources said that of all the people on the list, Moynihan is the most likely to eventually take the role because he held many different roles in the past, including heading Global Banking & Wealth Management for B of A.

Sources said that outsider Bob Steele, Former U.S. Undersecretary of Treasury, has been appealing to board members to get the job for a while. As a longtime Goldman Sachs executive and former head of Wachovia, Steel fits the experience criteria for the top job.

However, criticism over an appearance on CNBC's Mad Money, where he assured viewers that Wachovia was alive and well just before its demise and consequent sale to Wells Fargo tainted Steel's reputation.

Finding a suitable replacement for Ken Lewis is not the only concern on Bank of America's plate. The financial firm is expecting competition from Former Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management Group President Robert McCann.

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Sources said that the dispute between McCann and Bank of America over a non-compete contract has come to an end and that McCann will be free to pursue other opportunities by the end of the month.

The sources said that McCann will most likely go to UBS to run its Wealth Management sector. This could result in a direct competition with Sallie Krawcheck, head of B of A's Global Wealth, and is raising concerns that McCann will try to recruit top talent from B of A's Merrill Lynch Wealth management pool.