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At Bank of America, Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Candidates to succeed Bank of America head Ken Lewis as CEO reportedly told directors that the company should explore breaking itself up. Shocker, but the board passed.

Still, it takes gumption for a job-seeker to propose vivisecting a giant financial institution that happens to have been stitched together through lots of acquisitions. Let's imagine the scene for a moment. . . [cue dream sequence music]:

B of A director: So, what's the first thing you'd do as CEO? Candidate: Maybe break you guys up and stuff. B of A director [rubbing forehead] Um, "break" as in separate into different pieces? Candidate: Well, not necessarily the first thing. . . . [Director reaches for ejector button]
B of A officials may want to steal a glance at what's happening in Washington. Just today, House lawmakers passed a bill that gives government regulators authority to break up large financial companies.

Of course, by dint of its stake in the company, the feds will (unofficially) have final say on whomever gets the nod as CEO. And B of A's selection will say much about what Tim Geithner and Larry Summers are looking for in an exec to head the largest financial company in the U.S. Come to think of it, perhaps that explains why B of A directors feel free to reject more partition-minded applicants.

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