Bank of America Corp. tried to make the best of a bad situation — the need for a $45 billion federal bailout — with some good old-fashioned public relations this week.
Besides trumpeting its repayment of Uncle Sam and exit from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the company took out a full-page ad in several newspapers to thank the public.
"We'd like to say thank you to the taxpayers of America," the ad said. "We appreciate the critical role the government played in stabilizing financial markets. Tarp allowed us to continue to provide the capital that's critical to our economy."
It was an interesting move given the turmoil that came with receiving Tarp funds. Ken Lewis, who was stripped of the chairmanship in April, announced in September — reportedly after chafing under government oversight — that he would retire at yearend. Many have said Tarp restrictions on executive compensation have made the search for Lewis' successor difficult.
"While we realize the challenges that continue to face us are serious, we believe we've made good on the taxpayers' investment," the ad said. "They were there for us when we needed it most and, in turn, we look forward to continuing our efforts to help the nation's economic recovery."
Executives from 12 banking companies, including Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., will participate in a White House meeting Monday with President Obama to discuss his proposals to boost small-business lending and overhaul industry regulations, an administration official said.
Also represented will be Bank of America, Wells Fargo & Co., Capital One Financial Corp. and American Express Co., said the official.
Rounding out the guest list are executives from Bank of New York Mellon Corp., Morgan Stanley, PNC Financial Services Group Inc., U.S. Bancorp and State Street Corp., the official said.
Another meeting is planned with chiefs of smaller banks in the near future.
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Citigroup Chief Financial Officer John Gerspach was among 10 people named to the Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council, which helps the Financial Accounting Standards Board sort out technical issues and set priorities, for a term beginning Jan. 1. Other appointees include Ann Marie Petach, CFO of BlackRock Inc.; John "Arch" Archambault, national managing partner of professional standards at the accounting firm Grant Thornton LLP; Kenneth Marshall, a partner with Ernst & Young LLP; Kathy Petroni, an accounting professor at Michigan State University; and Marie Hollein, head of the Financial Executives International Association.