Fire in the Belly

Activist Al Pina was willing to go hungry in a fight against Bank of America Corp.'s lending disclosures.The chairman of the Florida Minority Community Reinvestment Coalition went into a fourth day of a hunger strike Wednesday, protesting that Charlotte-based B of A's minority lending activities are not transparent enough.

But late Wednesday he called it off, saying that B of A had agreed to let his coalition review information on the bank's minority lending each year.

"We are pleased with this outcome and the willingness of Bank of America to work with FMCRC on these very serious issues our communities of color are facing in Florida," Pina said in a statement e-mailed to American Banker.

Mike Fields, B of A's Florida president, said in an e-mail that the company is "pleased to resume our dialogue with FMCRC regarding the level of our commitment and investment in communities across the state of Florida" and that the company takes transparency "very seriously."

The hunger strike apparently did not distract Pina.

He quickly set his sights on the state's philanthropic foundations and corporations like AT&T Inc. Pina said it would take more than banks to create jobs and broaden the consumer base.

Tin Ear on Bonuses?

"They just don't get it."That was Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd's assessment of Citigroup Inc. after reports this week that the company was boosting employees' salaries in lieu of big bonuses.

The Connecticut Democrat did not specify exactly what it is that Citi doesn't get, but he left a less-than-subtle hint.

The brief statement his office issued on the matter noted that the Bureau of Labor Statistics had announced this week that there were 2,933 mass layoffs announced in May involving 312,880 employees, which helped push initial jobless claims to record highs while the national unemployment rate grew to 9.4%.

Of course, Citi is not the only financial firm trying to retain talent by offering better salaries, but few are subsisting on as much government aid.

Gassing Up at BB&T

BB&T Corp. has added its first director since the financial crisis took root. The $143.4 billion-asset Winston-Salem, N.C., banking company tapped Tom Skains, the chairman and CEO of Piedmont Natural Gas Co., to join its board immediately. Skains, 53, has led the Charlotte utility since 2003 and is the 2009 chairman of the American Gas Association.Kelly King, BB&T's CEO, said in a release that Skains was selected for his character, business acumen and intellect.

Skains is the first addition to the 18-member board since January 2008, when BB&T brought in Kentucky home builder Tommy Thompson.

Market for Paranoia

Some companies are using the financial crisis as an excuse to trade up for executive talent.Thomas Watkins, a partner in the executive search firm Chartwell Partners in Dallas, said some of his banking clients are approaching him to scour the job market for skilled wealth managers and lending officers with deep client portfolios. They are willing to oust the people they've got for someone better, he said.

The industry's unprecedented shakeup has meant pink slips even for top producers, he said.

"It's a unique opportunity to go shopping," Watkins said. "In a headhunter's vernacular, there is 'A' talent, 'B' talent and 'C' talent. They can go into the market and recruit 'A' or 'B' talent."

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