Bank of America (BAC) failing to announce a clear succession plan after Ken Lewis’ announced he’s stepping down gives BofA investors something else to worry about.
Not announcing a successor or even an interim CEO is a negative for BofA, Fox-Pitt says, while questioning the bank’s ability to attract a top exec while operating under close government supervision. BofA said it’ll announce a successor by year’s end, but analysts and bloggers are already speculating who’ll take the helm.
Stifel Nicolaus analyst Christopher Mustascio speculates that Bill Winters, who lost out as co-CEO of JPMorgan Chase’s (JPM) investment bank in Tuesday’s management reshuffle, might be a candidate to succeed Lewis. Other internal candidates are likely consumer banking head Brian Moynihan, and Thomas Montag, head of investment banking, but “potential external candidates could include former (BofA) CFO Al de Molina,” Mutascio writes.
BofA’s wealth management chief Sally Krawcheck is also being mentioned as a potential successor. “[Krawcheck] has the kind of credibility as a straight-shooter that the company desperately needs, and she might be able to mollify some of the bank’s more antagonistic foes,” Reuters blogger Felix Salmon says.
Ultimately, whoever the board picks must have savvy political skills, especially considering the banking giant’s dicey relationship with the government. From Salmon:
The job of the CEO is not really about managing down, so much as managing out — repairing relationships with Andrew Cuomo, Sheila Bair, Barney Frank, Mary Shapiro, Elizabeth Warren, and other Washington VIPs. The board will want an experienced manager, to be sure. But they’ll really want someone with political skills, who can calm the savage beast that has woken up DC and which is eyeing the giant of Charlotte.
(Brendan Conway and Matthias Rieker contributed to this post.)