Bank of America Corp. Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis has said he would consider postponing his retirement if directors need more time to find a successor or smooth the transition to the next CEO, according to a person close to him.
Mr. Lewis's willingness to stay at the Charlotte, N.C., bank beyond his planned Dec. 31 retirement date is the latest sign of the difficulties directors have faced in finding a successor Tensions have mounted as various internal and external candidates are floated, approached and vetted, people familiar with the discussions said. Some people inside the company claim the process is leaving the bank adrift without cohesive leadership as it tries to navigate the recession and other problems.
The 62-year-old Mr. Lewis has no plans to backtrack on his Sept. 30 retirement announcement, indicating only that he could act as a "bridge" until a successor is found, according to the person close to him. While Bank of America directors have shown no obvious interest in the idea so far, "the door isn't shut," this person said.
Meanwhile, the board has completed its interviews of inside and outside CEO candidates and is expected to deliberate over the weekend, according to another person familiar with the discussions.
The list of prospects has been narrowed to two Bank of America executives: consumer and small-business banking chief Brian Moynihan and chief risk Officer Gregory Curl, and at least two outsiders, this person said.
One widely rumored bargaining chip isn't on the table in discussions with CEO candidates, people with knowledge of the process said. The board hasn't offered to move the company's headquarters from its longtime hometown, put on the map as a banking center by Bank of America and the former First Union Corp., now part of Wells Fargo & Co.