In acquiring Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., Bank of America Corp. might acquire the eventual successor to its chief executive officer, Kenneth Lewis.

Bank of America said Thursday that Merrill chairman and CEO John Thain would oversee global banking, securities, and wealth management after B of A completes its $50 billion deal for the brokerage. That would make Mr. Thain the front-runner to succeed Mr. Lewis as CEO, observers say.

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