Bank of America Corp. directors, blindsided by Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis's resignation announcement Wednesday, are considering whether to bring in a short-term CEO who would keep the top job for roughly two years, according to people familiar with the board's deliberations.
Such a move would give several internal candidates at Bank of America more time to develop, these people said. Under the scenario, one of those candidates likely would succeed the short-term CEO.
No decision has been made, and the Charlotte, N.C., bank's board is continuing to sift through numerous internal and external candidates to become CEO when Lewis leaves. He announced Wednesday that he would step down by the end of the year.
The possibility of Bank of America's directors hiring a short-term CEO reflects the lurch that Lewis left them in with his surprise resignation. If Lewis had told them earlier about his plans, the board could have accelerated its search for a replacement. Instead, bank directors are grappling with what could become a prolonged period in limbo.
"We don't want to go through what Citi went through," one director told a person close to him. That is a reference to two months in late 2007 when Citigroup Inc. was rudderless following the departure of CEO Charles Prince.
"If we had more" notice of Lewis's departure, "we could have started work on it," the person said he was told by the Bank of America director.