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By Boraks, David | American Banker, August 17, 2001 | Go to article overview

People


Boraks, David, American Banker


All Done at B of A?

Has Ken Lewis finished the heavy lifting in his campaign to turn Bank of America Corp. into a company that grows internally, instead of through big acquisitions?

He thinks so. Mr. Lewis, who has been running the company for a year and a half and took over formally from former chairman and chief executive Hugh McColl Jr. in May, said as much during a conference call Wednesday.

"We're in the businesses we want to be in now," Mr. Lewis said, after announcing B of A was getting out of auto leasing and subprime lending. He said the moves leave the company with a better mix of high-growth, higher-profit businesses.

Now B of A will concentrate on looking for ways to boost revenues at its remaining businesses, according to Mr. Lewis. Though big deals are out, smaller ones could play a role in some areas, such as asset management, a division Mr. Lewis said he hopes eventually will contribute 15% of revenues, instead of 7%.

Wednesday's moves came after big job cuts during the past year, achieved by shutting other operations and signing major outsourcing deals, such as for human resources. But whether Mr. Lewis succeeds in lighting a fire under his troops may depend in part on the economy.

Chief financial officer Jim Hance said in Wednesday's conference call that he thinks the Charlotte, N.C., banking company is poised to grow quickly once the economy improves. "We want to be prepared to go full speed ahead when the economy improves in order to realize the premium potential in our franchise," he said. "And we believe our actions today help us reach that goal sooner."

Though most analysts liked the sound of Wednesday's announcement, at least one remains skeptical about whether the turnaround at B of A is complete.

Thomas Theurkauf of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. has been concerned about credit quality at the company and cut his 2001 earnings estimate by 30 cents, to $4.45 a share, citing expenses associated with quitting the two businesses. He maintained his "underperform" rating on the shares.

Suspect Sells Stock

Dale M. Gibbons, the former chief financial officer for Zions Bancorp, has continued to sell his stake in the company as he awaits hearings in the criminal case pending against him in Salt Lake District Court. …

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