NEW YORK – Ken Lewis, the embattled CEO of Bank of America Corp., is leaving the company, succumbing to nearly a year of strife that followed his company's acquisition of Merrill Lynch & Co.
The bank said in a statement late Wednesday that Lewis, 62, would retire as CEO and also leave the company's board by the end of the year. The company said his successor will be selected by the time he steps down Dec. 31.
The news, coming after shareholders had stripped Lewis of his chairman's title earlier this year, wasn't surprising because of the heavy pressure he came under after the Merrill deal. Lewis had said he would stay on as CEO until after the company's financial problems were resolved, a process expected to take several years.
However, with the bank also under heavy criticism from government officials, Lewis was increasingly seen as vulnerable.
Since the Merrill deal closed Jan. 1, it was learned that the investment bank with the knowledge of Bank of America executives, gave billions of dollars in bonuses to employees even as it asked for more bailout money from the government. The deal was forged a year ago at the height of the financial crisis.