By Mike Caggeso
Upset with Kenneth Lewis' leadership as Bank of America Corp.'s (BAC) Chief Executive Officer, and unable to privately persuade the company to unseat him, longtime shareholder Jerry Finger is launching a public campaign to oust Lewis from his post.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Finger said he asked the Securities and Exchange Commission Friday for permission to start a public campaign to remove Lewis, as well as lead director Temple Sloan and asset-quality committee chairman Jackie Ward at Bank of America's annual meeting on April 29.
Finger told The Journal that he has known Lewis for a long time, and his biggest beef with Lewis is his leadership is the bank's Jan. 1 decision to buy Merrill Lynch & Co.- a deal Lewis himself considered abandoning.
Since the purchase, Bank of America's stock has taken a beating. It's now trading at about $6.32, more than 55% below its value Jan. 1.
"The board and management have not looked after the shareholder," Finger told The Journal.
Finger's bullhorn is blaring fairly loud considering he and his family hold only about 1.5 million of Bank of America's shares, which is about 0.02% of total outstanding shares.
Finger has been invested in the company since 1986, when former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl purchased a $6 million stake in Finger's Texas bank, Charter Bancshares Inc.
"We have met with Mr. Finger several times to hear his concerns and have attempted to address them," a Bank of America spokesman told The Journal.
Bank of America's investor uprising bears resemblance to the Carl Icahn/Jerry Yang proxy showdown at Yahoo Inc. (YHOO). Billionaire investor Icahn – upset with Yang's performance as Yahoo Chief Executive – threatened to seek control of the board and resuscitate takeover talks with Microsoft Corp. (MSFT).
Icahn ultimately won the battle, ADSK), as his replacement a few months later.and Yahoo selecting Carol Bartz, chairwoman of Autodesk Inc. (
But Icahn did not get his ultimate wish, as Microsoft did not succeed in taking the company over.
News and Related Story Links:
- Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Finger Pokes at BofA's Lewis
- Money Morning:
Yahoo Names Carol Bartz New CEO