It’s a bittersweet happy hour for Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis. As of a few minutes ago, he gets to keep one of his two jobs — the one with all the work. At the bank’s annual meeting today shareholders voted by a razor-thin margin to keep Lewis in the CEO post and sack him as chairman. Walter Massey, a director at the bank and the president of Morehouse College, will replace him in the latter position. Lewis kept his job by a 50.3% vote in part on his strength among brokers who vote on behalf of their clients, bucking calls for reform by a formidable minority including one shareholder who referenced Psalm 83 at today’s meeting.
But one name on the Endangered Executives list moved closer to gilded retirement today, according Washington Post report that the Treasury Department is hammering out a bankruptcy plan for the automaker that would replace CEO Bob Nardelli with the management of the Italian auto company Fiat and hand over majority ownership to the company’s retirement fund, in exchange for the union’s agreement to cut in half the $10 billion it is owed by the company. Chrysler sales were down 39% in March from the year earlier, as compared with 35% at GM, whose CEO Rick Wagoner was asked by the Obama Administration down last month. It’s about time: while Lewis and Wagoner both had/have broad bases of support, Nardelli, who pulled down a high nine figure pay package while slashing veteran workers as CEO of Home Depot, doesn’t appear to have much at all.
Lewis, for his part, seems to think of himself as a patriot and, if nothing else, better than the former Merill Lynch CEO he pushed out of the company over the accelerated bonus scandal, John Thain.