BofA Having Trouble Finding CEO Due To Charlotte's Provincial Image

Tyler Durden's picture

It turns out that the main reason why Bank of America is unable to find someone willing to jump into Ken Lewis' hot shoes has nothing to do with BofA toxic balance sheet and everything to do with proximity to Carnegie Hall, the Lower East Side and any of a plethora of Daniel Boulud restaurants. Bloomberg reports that as BAC continues its search for a CEO replacement it is now willing to let the fall guy's replacement be domiciled out of New York. Whether that means that the Charlotte, NC-based firm is looking to relocate entirely to the Big Apple, and whether Mel Watt is aware that he no longer needs to be the lap dog of the firm's soon to no longer be landed interests, is yet to be determined.

Bloomberg reports:

Bank of America Corp. broadened its
search for a chief executive officer to include candidates who
want to live in New York, acknowledging the bank’s biggest units
are no longer based in its home of Charlotte, North Carolina,
people familiar with the matter said.

The board, led by Chairman Walter Massey, is also concerned
there may not be a deep enough pool of qualified candidates
willing to move to Charlotte, 330 miles south of Washington, the
people said, speaking anonymously because the search is private.
CEO Kenneth Lewis, who is stepping down at year’s end, has said
Charlotte will remain headquarters as long as he’s in charge.

As to what the current CEO replacement picture looks like, it appears there is still no definitive replacement for the corner office:

The leading internal CEO candidates are Chief Risk Officer
Gregory Curl, 61, who lives in Charlotte, and consumer-banking
chief Brian Moynihan, who almost left the bank last year after
he declined to take a new post in Wilmington, Delaware,
according to a person familiar with the situation. Moynihan, 50,
lives in Boston, where he worked for FleetBoston Financial Corp.
until Lewis bought the lender in 2004.

While New York City will likely be very happy to see BofAMLCFC move its HQ to its eco-friendly building on 42nd Street, as it struggles to refill its tax coffers courtesy of staggering financial firm NOLs carryforwards and various ploys by certain bank holding company hedge funds to avoid paying taxes pretty much in perpetuity, the Charlotte economy may not be just as happy:

Bank of America employs 15,000 people in its hometown, said
Bob Morgan, president of the Charlotte Chamber, a group that
promotes local business interests. That’s about 5 percent of the
bank’s global workforce of 281,863. Wells Fargo has about 19,000
employees in the city after cutting about 2,000 jobs there
during the past year, Morgan said.

Yet before BofA moves on with the whole transitioning thing too far, it will be more interesting what the fallout from the existing debacle of a management team will be, especially beginning in February when Mr. Lewis' jury trial is set to start. Perhaps it is not so much the wonderful (if soon to be bankrupt) New York subway system that is the draw, as is figuring out just what mess the Lewis successor will be inheriting. And that is one topic that nobody has either any information or desire to prognosticate on at this point, especially with the NY AG being oddly silent for over a month.

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RozzertheDropsky's picture

A shame they didn't keep the whole thing at 555 California Street, SF. A magnificent building covered with Carnelian granite. Never been the same since it went NationsBank. But the obvious solution is at hand: Michael Jordan, who's already demonstrated his interest in things Charlottean. Could he do any worse? What a draw for depositors: "Be like Mike."

Anonymous's picture

Be like Mike.

You mean like cheating on your wife, win at any cost, and march around thrusting your insufferable ego at anyone who'd stand still long enough? Yeah, sounds like a lot of senior finance types.

On 555 Calif (since I can see it out my window), 'tis a shame they moved. My sister had her wedding in the Carnelian Room. What a day: happy, hammered, with a fantastic view.

Hondo's picture

To waste taxpayers monies moving this dead elephant to NYC is an insult.  Bascially they, like many homeowners don't have the financial capacity to move!

Careless Whisper's picture

Can't they recruit someone from Goldman who will take the job long enough to merge toxic BankAmerica in to one of Goldman's other competitors? You know, kill two birds with one stone.


Anonymous's picture

NY is yesterday's news. Unless one has ambitions of monopolizing the financial base of the country, far more than it already is, why would one move the 2nd/3rd largest financial operations to NYC with the high moving tax base and enormous costs. What, one can't think outside the box? Planes don't fly to Charlotte? Have we learned nothing from 9/11 in diversfying our financial/political power? Does everything have to be on the Northeast Corridor of Boston to Washington?

The only good would be to have egg on the face of Mel Watt. But what a price to pay! Financially, and national security.

Anonymous's picture

Speaking as a Bostonian who currently resides in Atlanta and has been to Charlotte many times, the northeast corridor is a very unique part of this country. And nothing you say or write will change that. Having lived in Atlanta for many years now, I am looking forward to moving back to New England.

Anal_yst's picture

1. Business Continuity Planning (yea, yea...)

2. I'm sure Charlotte is a lovely place, but neither I nor anyone in NYC I know would want to move there, ESPECIALLY for such a precarious gig.

3. Most banks have their operations all over the country/world these days.  Sure the "core" investment banks are in NYC/London/SF/Hong Kong/etc, but the rest of the ops are often in the middle of nowhere, relatively speaking

Johnny Cashflow's picture

I live in NC (via NYC). I, nor anyone I know in NC, would want to move to Charlotte. That place has the smell of a gold rush town.

Anonymous's picture

I feel like we've entered a quasi-Nazi moral era..'I huf juzt kom frum de Fuhrer himself!'

Steak's picture

This reminds me of a job offering ZH posted that one of the quant shops (or something) wishing to rule the world had put out.  On top of the demanding qualifications and high-powered nature of the job, this firm felt compelled to note they had fantastic "cullinary offerings" should the job be offered.

It is pathetic that the folks in financial professions on such a high level have to be bribed in this fashion.  This kind of stuff is what you'd expect from someone planning a Super Sweet 16.

AR's picture

BAC is not going to move its' headquarters from Charlotte.  Nice rumors however.  The media loves to stir up stories like this. 

AR's picture

Here is another reason why banking is so screwed up. On one of the business news stations, they are discussing the possibility of BAC asking the Ex-CFO of Wachovia to take over as Bank of America's CEO.  Think about this.  The Ex-CFO of Wachovia.  How can any logical, sane person, or group of people (the board), even contemplate hiring the Ex-CFO from one of the world's most miserably failed institutions in this country (Wachovia) -- in order to run another one.  QUESTION posed (help us ZH readers):  Are people really this STUPID???  No wonder we have these problems.

MinnesotaNice's picture

I think people are that stupid... it is a really distorted version of 'group think'... it is cronyism at its finest... makes me nauseated... the circle cluster f&ck continues on unabated.  But at least the Ex-CFO of Wachovia was not in the running for position as Chairman of the Federal Reserve... because in the times we currently live in those fantastical types of things seem to easily become the new reality.

deadhead's picture

Sally Krawchek is the ex CFO of Citi.  Just saying.....

Anonymous's picture

But BofA is a step up--in the 400lb bellyflop in the pool of failures.
As to why the Eastern elite look down upon the southern climes, perhaps it's the lack of discreet escort services or proper eurotrash twink tail after hours that's got them worried. And dang it, Jethro done used my kilo of beluga for bait! Intolerable.
I think the bottom line is that Charlotte is too far away for your peers to see that you're outdoing them, therefore it is like exile rather than a reward.

Circumspice's picture

Kelly was the CFO from before the merger with Golden West and a lot of the ramp-up in structured products, and he presided over the First Union-Wachovia merger as CFO and the BNY-Mellon merger as CEO. Both mergers were fairly successful, and Wachovia's worst decisions occurred after he left. I can see why a company struggling with two mergers might want Kelly. Heck, Wachovia wanted him back in the middle of last year.

The CFO during the Golden West acquisition was Tom Wurtz. As far as I know, he's left banking. The CEO at the time, Ken Thompson, is at some PE firm.

The only thing crazy about asking Kelly to be CEO is the idea that he'd leave BNY Mellon for a zombie bank.

Anonymous's picture

What about Sallie Krawchek, the "last honest analyst" and the "most powerful woman in banking"? At least that's according to her PR firm. She also has relevant experience, having been the architect and overseer of Citigroup's toxic waste dump, aka balance sheet, while CFO of Citi.

MinnesotaNice's picture

I cannot believe that with 6 billion people in the world... and 300 million of them living in the United States... that there is not one qualified person who wishes to be the CEO of BAC and live in Charlotte...  what has this world come to.

AR's picture

Minnesota  /  Honestly... we are just speechless over this.  Are people really this stupid?  No logic anymore. No common sense.  Just stunning to us.  It's like a crack addict going to a rehab center -- and they repeatedly prescribe more crack.  We're just so screwed.  

Anonymous's picture

This story makes sense when it was Mel Watt that gutted the "Audit the Fed" bill. He comes on board and eviscerates the bill, Charlotte keeps the jobs. Quid pro quo. The story of a move is a smokescreen.

crosey's picture

The bank won't relo HQ as long as Hugh McColl is still alive and kicking...just my opinion.

Also, too much invested in Charlotte.

But if they do move, why not DC?  Hell, they're run from there anyway.

Anonymous's picture

I've never been to Charlotte, but I'm a pretty adaptable guy so if they can't find anybody else, I'll take the job.

RowdyRoddyPiper's picture

Lets move BoA to Charlotte Amelie in the watch the flood of resumes.

Anonymous's picture

New Math:The avatars of some should be 4x their size.

Careless Whisper's picture

I'm expecting Jon Corzine to be available in January.

Anonymous's picture

Of all the people available why do they insist this person must have consumer banking experience? The concept of choice in consumer banking is an oxymoron.... visa(pun intended)vis see Bruce Krasting article on credit cards.
The smartest geezer available for BofA would be Bill Winters recently ex JPM.....clearly Dimon was scared of this quiet achiever who managed to steer JPM around most of the mortgage mess.
The problem is most likely the location. There is a global financial jet stream that runs from NYC to London to Singapore and back to NYC with and occasional El Nino effects spinning off in two places...from London to Paris and Frankfurt and from Singapore to Hong Kong and Tokyo.
Oh dear Charlotte doesn't make that list.

Anonymous's picture

Charlotte may well become a ghost town of its former self. Hello, tax credits from the NC legislature ?!? why the hell not, it is located in I-85 after all.

If BAC did move the official home base, surely the BBT folks in Winston-Salem would shed a tear. Two fewer asshole competitors in-state (three, if you incorporate the FTU-Wachovia merging).


Rainman's picture

Even before the merger with Nation's Bank, BAC was a conglomeration of different banking cultures from various mergers over a century since it was founded as the Bank of Italy. It went totally  schizophrenic with the SoCal Security Pacific Bank merger in the early 90s. In an effort to get bigger, it lost a lot of customers in the CA market even before the Nation's merger....especially the loyal agricultural accounts of the farmers in the Central Valley and Sonoma Valley wine country.

In 1990, I was especially amused when SF-based BofA impulsively decided it would not support the Boy Scouts, since the Scouts had a rule regarding openly gay scoutmasters. The farmers pulled their accounts by the hundreds and BofA was forced to reverse itself within 30 days. Notwithstanding the validity of the cause, it was a dumbass position that was bound to piss off the non-SF customer base. An incredibly stupid management decision.......and when they reversed the position, the gays were then pissed at them !! So they managed to piss everybody off. Brilliant !!

McColl wanted out of the SF area with the merger because he's a Charlotte guy and because SF is an outrageously expensive place to do business compared to Charlotte. So he took the name and dumped SF as the HQ for the merged bank.

My point is that TBTF banking became a faceless bureaucratic maze of combined and competing bureaucracies .  As they got bigger, they decided to shit on their loyal customer bases and pursue new, more  complicated ventures. Now they are totally detached from any loyal community roots and legally insolvent.

Everyone needs to do business with a local community bank or credit union and dump the TBTF banks. They are totally incompetent and greedy fools who are sucking the life out of our country. So fuck 'em !!

My rant for the day.....maybe the week.

T-888's picture

Come on, Charlottes not that bad. We do have a few Ruth's Chris's around...

Anonymous's picture

Charlotte is definitely provincial and there's lots to do and see in New York City, but maybe the financial sector employees of recent years might have been better off with less to do and see.

The fried chicken at the Diamond Restaurant in Charlotte is not good for you, but tastes great.

Do they serve fried chicken at Elaine's?

Brett in Manhattan's picture

If there's a good fried chicken joint in Manhattan, I haven't seen it. There's a great one, Hattie's, in Saratoga Springs which is upstate.

Anonymous's picture

History rhymes. I grew up in Winston-Salem and can't help but be reminded of when RJR headquarters were moved to Atlanta due to the "bucolic" nature of WS.

Anonymous's picture

Tyler for CEO !!!