Bank of America Corp. chief executive Ken Lewis said he would stay on at the company until it paid back the $45 billion it received from the U.S. government's Troubled Asset Relief Program.
"I want to repay the Tarp money before I go anywhere, and by then I think we will be seeing the success of the Merrill Lynch acquisition," he told the Financial Times, according to a report on the newspaper's Web site Tuesday. "It would be very easy to disappear into the sunset but we have to slug through this." He added that he hadn't considered resigning "for one second."
Lewis said it could take two to three years to pay back the funds.
He also admitted a tactical error in taking $20 billion government aid to support the bank's acquisition of Merrill Lynch, which lost $15 billion in the fourth quarter of last year. Instead, he said, the company should have requested $10 billion.
"In hindsight, it was a tactical mistake because it put us in the same category as Citigroup," Lewis said. "We could still have had 8% tier 1 capital after a $15 billion loss but we wanted a cushion."