Sanford I. Weill has finally gotten a piece of BankAmerica Corp.

On Monday, Mr. Weill, chairman of the Travelers Group Inc., announced his company's $1.6 billion deal to buy BankAmerica's consumer finance unit. Though a significant deal for Travelers Group, it pales in comparison to what Mr. Weill had in mind in 1986.

In January of that year, Mr. Weill made an attempt to become the chief executive officer of BankAmerica.

That audacious move, described by one investment banker who witnessed it as "among the craziest things I've ever seen," was made when the San Francisco bank was reeling from problem loans and heavy regulatory scrutiny.

Mr. Weill had resigned six months earlier as president of American Express Co. and was looking for other challenges. Recognizing BankAmerica's precarious position and that perhaps Samuel H. Armacost's job as chief executive officer was in jeopardy, Mr. Weill sought a hearing with BofA's board.

He offered, in return for the right to perform due diligence on the bank, to inject $1 billion of capital raised by what was then Shearson Lehman Brothers. Mr. Weill presumably would have taken Mr. Armacost's job.

"It was unprecedented," said Stephen T. McLin, who was BofA's head of strategic planning at the time. "But we realized that this wasn't a takeover offer. It was a job application by Sandy Weill."

Despite support from some directors, the board rejected the offer after determining the bank could raise that amount of capital on its own, said Mr. McLin, now the president and chief executive officer of America First Eureka Holdings Inc.

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