BoA boss Ken Lewis to quit the firm early

KEN LEWIS, the embattled Bank of America (BoA) chief executive, last night revealed he is to retire at the end of the year after almost a decade at the head of the firm.<br /><br />No successor was named by the bank, which said Lewis will also retire as a director.<br /><br />Lewis, 62, had said he wanted to retire only after the stricken bank repaid its $45bn (&pound;28.1bn) package of state aid, or when he hit the firm&rsquo;s retirement age of 65.<br /><br />But yesterday Lewis said: &ldquo;BoA is well positioned to meet the continuing challenges of the economy and markets. I am particularly heartened by the results that are emerging from the decisions and initiatives of the difficult past year-and-a-half.&rdquo;<br /><br />The banking veteran, who engineered the firm&rsquo;s controversial $50bn takeover of Merrill Lynch last year, retires after 40 years at the firm including eight as chief executive.<br /><br />BoA is grappling with a legal probe over the deal, with US authorities investigating claims it misled investors over details of Merrill staff bonuses. Lewis was stripped of his title as chairman of the firm in April after a shareholder vote.<br /><br />Earlier, the bank said it expected to close the sale of part of its Columbia Management asset management arm to Ameriprise Financial next spring for between $900m and $1.2bn in cash. It said it was to sell the long-term asset management division, which duplicates similar operations at newly-acquired Merrill Lynch.<br /><br />Ameriprise is paying about seven times the expected earnings of the unit before interest, taxes and depreciation, a company spokesman said.