North Carolina's Other Ken
Ken Lewis is running for the U.S. Senate in North Carolina.
No, it's not the former CEO of Bank of America Corp. in Charlotte. Candidate Ken Lewis is a lawyer from Chapel Hill vying for the Democratic nomination to challenge the likely Republican nominee, incumbent Richard Burr. If successful, Lewis — who has three rivals in the May 4 primary — would become the state's first black senator.
Bruce Clark, who runs the Lewis campaign, laughed when asked about the possible name confusion, saying that it complicates matters in the B of A stronghold around Charlotte. "We have to pay particular attention to that," he said.
"We view it as a conversation starter or an icebreaker," Clark said. "We have been asked if the name is hurting us in Charlotte," given the controversy over B of A's purchase of Merrill Lynch & Co. that contributed to Lewis' decision to retire last year. "I would say no, it hasn't been an obstacle."
In with the New
Speaking of B of A … Lewis' successor, Brian Moynihan, issued a mea culpa of sorts in his first annual letter to shareholders.
"Before and during the recent crisis, many of our collective business judgments missed the mark," Moynihan wrote. "We believe the changes we're making now will put us in a much better position to see and respond to macroeconomic risks in the future."
Moynihan, who became CEO on Jan. 1, said that the $2.4 trillion-asset company is making customer-friendly changes, "and we are urging constructive dialogue with policymakers to make sure we'll be able to continue to meet the needs of our clients, while at the same time protecting the future of our industry."
Moynihan also discussed fixes to risk management. "Each year, the management team will recommend, and the board of directors will approve, an aggregate risk appetite for the company that management will then allocate across the lines of business. We've clarified risk management roles and responsibilities."
Tough Payment Plan
BB&T Corp. is fighting back against a client that allegedly blamed the lender for its collapse.
The Winston-Salem, N.C., banking company filed a defamation lawsuit against Computertraining.edu last month in Circuit Court for Baltimore County. BB&T claims in its lawsuit that the computer training school made false statements on its Web site and answering machine that blamed the lender for its demise. BB&T's suit seeks unspecified damages.
The answering machine said that Computertraining.edu "has been forced by BB&T Bank to immediately cease operations," according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by the Baltimore Business Journal, which reported the litigation online Tuesday. The borrower's Web site, which no longer works, also accused BB&T of seizing Computertraining.edu's assets and refusing to let students finish classes, the suit claimed.
BB&T, which won a separate $1.6 million judgment in January against Computertraining.edu, said in its lawsuit that it never seized the company's facilities.
A spokeswoman for BB&T, Cynthia Williams, confirmed that the lawsuit had been filed. She said it was in response to "false statements made against BB&T and its loan officers."
Sniffing Out Deals
Donald H. Layton, a former vice chairman of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and former head of E-Trade Financial Corp., has joined a structured securities firm that wants to start nosing around the banking industry for investment opportunities.
Layton this week was appointed senior adviser and investment committee co-chairman at NewOak Capital LLC, a 55-person firm in New York.
He will be responsible for developing a private-equity vehicle for bank recapitalization deals, and will provide strategic and operational advice to banks that wind up in the firm's investment portfolio.
"Don's in-depth banking industry expertise will greatly enhance and complement NewOak Capital's state-of-the-art credit loss estimation, asset valuation and restructuring, and broad financial industry advisory capabilities," Ron D'Vari, a NewOak co-founder and its CEO, said in announcing the hire.
Layton retired from E-Trade in December after joining the company as chairman in November 2007.
He previously spent 29 years with JPMorgan Chase and is a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's international capital markets advisory committee.