Could Ken Lewis lose his job?

By Melissa Hankins - bio l email

Posted by LaToya Boyce - email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Bank of America-Merrill Lynch merger got even messier Tuesday when New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo stepped in with subpoenaes.

Cuomo wants to question former Merrill CEO John Thain and Bank of America's Chief Administrative Officer J. Steele Alphin.

The formal inquiry is about the bonuses paid to Merrill execs prior to the merger and its putting a lot of heat on Bank of America Chief Ken Lewis.

Lewis must face the bank's board members on Wednesday.  Right now, there is a lot of talk about whether those board members are reconsidering his role.

If he does get ousted, it will be an incredibly fast fall.  While he's reportedly fighting for his job, a month ago, he was celebrated as Banker of the Year.

If only Lewis could turn back time just a little.  On December 4, he was living large at the Manhattan's Plaza Hotel all dressed up and delivering an acceptance speech for the American Banker Awards.  The venerable industry magazine named him 2008's Banker of the Year.

At the time, Lewis said, "It is possible to keep one's head even as others are losing their's."

A mere month later, he might not be so sure because shareholders and some industry insiders are now calling for his head, including popular banking analyst Ray Soifer.

"If I were Ken Lewis, I would at least think about offering to resign," he said.

Soifer, of Sofier Consulting, thinks Lewis did well for a long time as Chief of Bank of America, but now, with more Merrill-merger problems piling up, Soifer says Lewis should be concerned about his job.

Bank of American's board meeting Wednesday could be big trouble for Lewis but one thing is working in his favor.  There's no clear replacement for him waiting in the wings.