The big breaking news this evening is the resignation of Bank of America‘s embattled CEO Ken Lewis (damn, I’ve had to type the phrase “embattled CEO” a lot this year) which will take effect on January 1st.
There was plenty of speculation that this would happen as investigations into the Merrill acquisition scandal began to heat up. NY State AG Andrew Cuomo‘s office had this to say in reaction to the announcement this evening:
“(this news) will have no impact on our continuing investigation.”
My quick reaction is that this guy should’ve fallen on his sword months ago. He made like twenty something million dollars last year while the bank he built and ran was almost literally in flames.
He got taken to the cleaners by Countrywide, costing taxpayers billions when the purchased assets got worse in a hurry. Then he got rooked by John Thain when he bought Merrill Lynch at a huge premium when it would’ve been bankrupt 3 days later had he just waited a la Barclays’ Lehman acquisition.
I heard Larry Kudlow and Charlie Gasparino talking just now about how the investigation coming his way is overblown and how by buying Merrill Lynch, he may have saved the country. No, seriously, that’s what they said. KEN LEWIS MAY HAVE SAVED THE COUNTRY. I thought I was on acid for a minute.
I generally like Charlie and Larry, but man, they still don’t get it. CEOs like Lewis wrecked the country in the first place. You don’t praise a kid who eggs your house for coming by to clean it up the next morning because he got caught! What the hell kind of twisted logic is that?
And he didn’t save s&@#, his eyes were too big for his stomach and he was obsessed with owning Merrill, due diligence be damned. When it became apparent that he had bitten off more than he could chew, you and I ended up writing a check for another $20 billion to rescue him from his second stupid purchase in less than a year.
And approving Merrill bonuses paid with taxpayer funds and then lying about it? Get outta here.
This departure is long overdue. Good riddance to yet another emperor with no clothes. Why wait til January?