One of the 700 people the FCIC interviewed while conducting its investigation of what caused the financial crisis was Ken Lewis.
He told the FCIC about a certain executive’s incessant calls.
Lehman was on the brink of failure, and Fuld was as desperate as a school girl for Lewis to buy it.
Lewis’ wife finally had to tell Fuld, “Stop calling. He won’t pick up. He’s mine.”
From the FCIC’s report (click here to download the report):
Former Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis told the FCIC that Treasury Secretary Paulson had called him on Wednesday, September 10, and asked him to take another look at acquiring Lehman, assuring him that Fuld was ready to deal.
Paulson and Geithner had arranged for Fuld and Lewis to discuss an acquisition in July, but Fuld had not been interested in selling the entire firm at that time. Because of this history, Lewis expressed his concerns to Paulson that Fuld would not want to sell the entire company or would not be willing to sell at a realistic price.
Still, a team of Bank of America executives began reviewing Lehman’s books, and on the next day, Fuld sounded optimistic about a deal.
But Bank of America determined that Lehman’s as- sets were overvalued, and Lewis told Paulson there would be no deal without government assistance. Undeterred, Paulson told Lewis—as Lewis informed the FCIC—to put on his “imagination hat” and figure out a deal. His insistence kept the Bank of America executives working, but on Friday, September 12, Lewis called Paulson to repeat his assessment—no government support, no deal.
Apparently Fuld had been kept out of the loop, and began to call Lewis at home. Lewis’s wife told Fuld that Lewis would not come to the phone and to stop calling.