Bank of America shareholders vote to allow Moynihan to keep both CEO, chairman roles

by 23 Sep 2015
By Ken Sweet


Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan will keep both his CEO and chairman positions following a Tuesday vote by shareholders.

It was a significant win for the bank, which had lobbied hard for the dual role.

Only 63 per cent of eligible shareholders voted in favour, however, far from a solid majority, showing how far the bank must still go to win the trust of its investors.

In 2009, BofA's shareholders voted to strip the chairman title from then-CEO Ken Lewis, partly as a vote of no-confidence following a series of bungled and controversial acquisitions, including the purchase of mortgage lender Countrywide Financial and the financial firm Merrill Lynch.

BofA's board of directors reversed that shareholder vote last year, when they gave the chairman role to Moynihan, saying the combined role was more appropriate for how the company was being managed. But activist shareholders say the decision goes against what investors voted for six years ago.

"Even though it mustered a majority, Bank of America's leadership emerges wounded and weakened from today's shareholder vote. The bank failed to secure the overwhelming victory it needed to show that it has investors' confidence,'' said Michael Pryce-Jones, with CtW Investment Group, a financial advisory firm affiliated with more than $250 billion in union pension funds.

Still, Moynihan declared victory.

"We are pleased our shareholders had the chance to express their views, and we appreciate their support to continue driving our company forward for them and for our customers and clients,'' he said in a prepared statement.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon faced a similar vote two years ago, and also kept both jobs. That proposal was removed last year before the bank's annual meeting, eradicating the threat.

BofA shares fell 13 cents, or 0.8 per cent, $15.57, as broader stock markets declined.



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