Bank of America is shrinking

BANK of America plans to shrink its 6,109-branch United States network after years of expansion.<br /><br />America&rsquo;s largest bank has denied claims it will shed 10 per cent of its branches &ndash; a move that would cost thousands of jobs &ndash; but admits there will have to be cuts because more of its customers are using telephone or web banking.<br /><br />Bank spokesman James Mahoney said the size of the branch network &ldquo;will come down modestly as we continue to build new branches as well&rdquo;.<br /><br />He said there was no pressure from regulators to cut branches.<br /><br />Mahoney explained that press reports of a 10 per cent cut in branches was the result of misinterpretation of what chief executive Kenneth Lewis said to investors at a meeting.<br /><br />Mahoney said: &ldquo;A question was asked: &lsquo;What size do you see the branch network being?&rsquo; And Ken said we haven&rsquo;t decided that. Someone said, &lsquo;Can you envision it being 10 per cent smaller?&rsquo; and Ken said, &lsquo;Yes, I can envision that.&rsquo;&rdquo; <br /><br />The North Carolina-based bank faces rising losses from credit card and mortgage loans.<br /><br />Lewis said on 17 July it will be &ldquo;much tougher&rdquo; to make money in the year&rsquo;s second half, after a $7.47 bn (&pound;4.55bn) first-half profit bolstered by several one-time items.<br /><br />The chief executive faces intense shareholder anger and regulatory scrutiny following the bank&rsquo;s acquisitions of Merrill Lynch and mortgage lender Countrywide Financial. There is no timetable to repay its $45bn of federal bailout money.<br /><br />Lewis, 62, has spent four decades at Bank of America, including eight years as chief executive. <br /><br />He helped engineer the 1998 merger of NationsBank and BankAmerica.