Bank of America Corp. Chief Executive Kenneth D. Lewis on Tuesday gave what may be his last on-the-job defense of the company he helped build.

Lewis, who is set to retire at yearend, used his opening remarks at a conference hosted by B of A to again tout recent acquisitions such as Countrywide Financial Corp. and Merrill Lynch & Co. "I am confident history will show our actions in operating and building Bank of America positioned us for future success," he said.

Lewis abruptly announced his retirement a month ago, setting off a succession debate within the $2.39 trillion-asset company.

He said that when he became the CEO in 2001, "we had before us the business opportunity of a lifetime. … Today my feeling is that we are standing on the verge of accomplishing these goals."

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