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.
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.