An investment group affiliated with a coalition of unions on Thursday called for Bank of America Corp.'s board to remove chairman and chief executive Ken Lewis, citing his "disastrous missteps" as leader of the nation's biggest bank.
In a letter to lead director Temple Sloan, the CtW Investment Group noted the 90 percent decline in the Charlotte bank's stock since Lewis agreed to buy Merrill Lynch & Co. in mid-September and the ongoing controversy over the payment of $3.6 billion in bonuses to Merrill employees before the deal closed Jan. 1.
"Removing Mr. Lewis is now a necessary prerequisite to restoring (Bank of America's) credibility with shareholders, regulators and the public," William Patterson, CtW's executive director, wrote in the letter. If Lewis is not ousted, the group will call on shareholders to vote against the re-election of Lewis, Sloan and corporate governance committee chairman Thomas Ryan at the April 29 shareholders' meeting.
The letter adds to the shareholder ire aimed at Lewis, CEO since 2001. Nearly two dozen shareholder lawsuits have been filed against the bank over the Merrill deal.
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In January, Sloan issued a statement supporting Lewis. A bank spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.
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