BankAm Names CFO, Investment Bank Chief

New York, March 24 | Updated: Mar 25 2004, 05:30am hrs
Bank of America Corp on Tuesday named a chief financial officer (CFO) and head of investment banking, appointing company veterans to the key jobs before its planned April 1 purchase of FleetBoston Financial Corp.

Marc Oken will become CFO, replacing and reporting to James Hance, who will remain vice-chairman. Mr Hance has been CFO of Bank of America and various predecessors since 1988.

Alvaro de Molina will become head of the global corporate and investment bank, replacing Edward Brown, who is retiring from the bank after 32 years. Mr Oken and Mr de Molina have worked for the bank since 1989.

The changes are effective April 2, one day after Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America plans to finish its $47 billion purchase of Boston-based Fleet. Bank of America chief executive Kenneth Lewis is installing his own executive team ahead of the merger.

This is exactly the right time to make these changes, said Richard Bove, a Hoefer & Arnett analyst who rates Bank of America shares strong buy and doesnt own them. This is a recognition that some executives have done a good job, and deserve promotions.

Mr Oken and Mr de Molina were not available for interviews.

Bank of America, now the third-largest US bank, will rise to No 2 after it buys Fleet, trailing Citigroup Inc. It will drop to No 3 after JP Morgan Chase & Co finishes buying Bank One Corp.

Bank of America has this month been trying to address several matters prior to its merger.

Bank of America and Fleet agreed to pay $515 million and cut fees $160 million to settle regulatory probes into improper mutual fund trading. Bank of America also agreed to a $10 million US Securities and Exchange Commission penalty for failing to produce documents in another trading probe.

Italian investigators are still probing the banks role in Parmalat Finanziaria SpAs collapse. Bank of America on Tuesday said it did not know of a $5 billion gap in the food companys accounts until two days before Parmalat disclosed it, not one week before the disclosure as some reports suggested.

On Monday, Bank of America named a board of directors composed of 12 people chosen by Bank of America and seven chosen by Fleet. Mr Lewis will remain CEO. Fleet CEO Charles Chad Gifford will become chairman.

Mr Oken, 57, will oversee the corporate treasurers office and continue to oversee the merger transition.

He was most recently principal financial executive overseeing external and regulatory reporting, financial information systems, taxation and strategic financial planning. He advised the SECs chief accountant from 1981 to 1983.

I dont think Jim Hance has given up any power whatsoever, Mr Bove said. Hes still vice-chairman, and the people who do the financial work will still report to him. Mr Hance is 59.

Mr De Molina, 46, was most recently corporate treasurer. He had been JP Morgans emerging markets CFO before joining Bank of America.

Bank of Americas corporate and investment bank last year increased profit 29 per cent to $2.01 billion, equal to 19 per cent of Bank of Americas $10.8 billion profit. It increased stock and bond underwriting 22 per cent and tripled merger advising, Thomson Financial data show.

Mr Brown, 55, who took over the unit in 2000, will remain at the bank through June 30.

Joseph Dewhirst, 52, Fleets treasurer, will succeed Mr de Molina as corporate treasurer, reporting to Mr Oken.

Bank of America shares fell 20 cents to $78.53 in Tuesday trading on the New York Stock Exchange. -Reuters