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Bank of America To Trim Branches by 10%

After two decades of expansion, Bank of America is planning to cut its 6,100-branch network by 10 percent, according to a Wall Street Journal report ($) Tuesday.

CEO Kenneth Lewis informed investors of the planned cutbacks last week, according to the report. Liam McGee, president of Bank of America's consumer and small-business bank, confirmed coming branch closures but wouldn't specify a number.

The banking giant, which began dramatically increased its retail presence nationwide in the 1990s, now sees customers moving away from brick-and-mortar branches in favor of online and mobile banking, according to the Journal.

Earlier this month, Bank of America announced second-quarter profits of $2.42 billion, but Lewis conceded it would be "much tougher" to make money in the last half of 2009. The bank still faces the challenge of integrating Merrill Lynch and Countrywide Financial, two troubled firms acquired early in the financial meltdown.

Two retail competitors, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase, have indicated they'll continue building up their respective branch networks in the near-term, according to the report.

Bank of America hasn't set a date for the branch closings.

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