Bank Of America's Ken Lewis Reluctantly Gives Up Bonus

It looks like Ken Lewis might have learned something from watching the escapades of his hireling, John Thain. Thain ran Merrill Lynch and reportedly requested a $10 million bonus. He thought that number was a reasonable haircut from the $40 million a Wall Street big shot like him clearly deserved. But the public and the board balked, and everyone decided to pretend that Thain never really wanted a bonus any way.

Now Bank of America Chief Executive Officer Ken Lewis has recommended that he and his senior executive team not receive bonuses this year.  “The board of directors is likely to accept the recommendation, according to a memo sent by Lewis today to employees,” Bloomberg dryly notes.

“This was a difficult decision because we have worked hard and made progress on many projects that will create value for our company in future years,” Lewis said in the memo. “Nonetheless we are a pay-for-performance company.”

Well, we guess he didn’t learn the lesson of Thain’s folly that well.  So let’s make it explicit: when you have taken billions of government money, your share price is down 65% and your dividend halved…well, complaining about how difficult it is to forego a bonus is a bad idea. It pales in comparison to the difficulty of actually owning your stock.

Also, someone should tell him that if he really thinks he created lots of value for BoA he could, you know, buy a bunch of BofA stock.

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