Even if Bank of America (BAC) listens to Meredith Whitney and doesn’t fire Ken Lewis, there’s a good chance he’ll be stepping down before too long. After repaying TARP — if they can pull it off — Lewis is likely to ride into retirement with a severely diminished personal fortune.
The Journal suggests that a likely replacement is Brian Moynihan, a lawyer by training, who was put in charge of running Merrill after Thain was sacked.
Although Moynihan has clashed with other top executives at the bank, it was he who accompanied Lewis to his recent meeting at The White House, and apparently he did most of the talking, according to the report.
So important is he to Bank of America’s upper ranks that Mr. Lewis scrambled in December to keep him after telling the board that Mr. Moynihan turned down a new job and might leave the bank.
“He has proved in difficult environments he is very capable,” said Anthony DiNovi, co-president of Boston private-equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners LP, who has worked with him on past deals. “When Ken has a tough job at hand he turns to Brian, and Brian has always been there for him.”
But whether Mr. Moynihan eventually takes over will likely depend heavily on whether he can successfully merge Merrill into Bank of America, an integration that so far has been plagued with high-profile departures and infighting. Mr. Moynihan was unavailable for comment, according to a spokesman.