10 Bank of America Board members quit

bank-of-americaBank of America Corp., the lender that took $45 billion in U.S. aid, said three directors resigned this week, pushing the total of departing board members to 10 since April. The board now has 13 members.

John T. Collins, William Barnet III and Gary Countryman resigned, according to a regulatory filing. The exits weren’t the result of a disagreement with management, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank said yesterday.

Bank of America stripped Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Lewis of his chairman title in April after criticism of how he handled the bank’s Jan. 1 purchase of Merrill Lynch & Co. The bank named four directors in June, including ex-Federal Reserve Board Governor Susan Bies and Donald Powell, former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Other newcomers include Paul Jones, a former CEO at an Alabama bank and William Boardman, ex- chairman of Visa International Inc.

“This shows that there is continued pressure to improve things and they are still looking around to see who was around when the bad stuff occurred,” said Jonathan Finger, whose Houston-based family owns more than 1 million shares of Bank of America stock and has pressed for boardroom changes. “They have brought in stronger directors and they are headed in the right direction.”

Bank of America plans to add more board members later this year, spokesman Scott Silvestri said. He declined further comment on the board changes.

Regulators, Lawmakers

Federal regulators and lawmakers have pushed the bank to improve its risk management and succession planning after Bank of America posted a $1.7 billion loss in the last period of 2008, its first losing quarter in 17 years. Federal Reserve stress tests in May found the company may face as much as $136 billion in losses through 2010, prompting the bank to raise $34 billion in capital.

Lewis, 62, has said he plans to stay as CEO until the bank is earning about $30 billion annually, reflecting the improved profit potential from its purchases of Merrill and home lender Countrywide Financial Corp. The bank had a record annual profit of $21.1 billion in 2006.

The lender this year replaced Chief Risk Officer Amy Woods Brinkley with Gregory L. Curl, who helped Lewis arrange acquisitions including Countrywide.

Directors Admiral Joseph Prueher, General Tommy R. Franks, Jackie M. Ward and Patricia E. Mitchell stepped down earlier this year, as did O. Temple Sloan, lead director, and Robert Tillman, retired CEO at Lowe’s Cos. Meredith Spangler resigned after reaching 72, the bank’s age limit.

Barnet, Collins and Countryman joined the bank’s board after the 2004 purchase of FleetBoston Corp. Collins, who heads a private investment firm, and Countryman, the retired CEO of Liberty Mutual Insurance Corp., live in Boston. Barnet is the mayor of Spartanburg, South Carolina, where he is CEO of a real estate and investment firm.

Source: Bloomberg

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