Ken Lewis's unusual victory

Ken Lewis, the CEO of Bank of America (BAC), lost his job as chairman as shareholders voted to separate the chairman and CEO roles. Angry investors viewed the move as a way to oust Lewis, or at least undermine his authority. He has been blamed for the bank's fall from grace, especially for agreeing to buy a deeply wounded Merrill Lynch.

But Lewis keeps something more important than the chairman's job. His board gave him a vote of confidence and he will still run all of the company's operations. Walter E. Massey, who is the head of third-tier educational institution Morehouse College, will take over as chairman. He has been on the B of A board for so long that his appointment barely qualifies as an independent director. It is hard to see how, with a background in physics, he got on the bank's board at all.

Lewis's real victory is that he may be around for a long time. According to The Wall Street Journal, "Nancy Bush, an analyst at NAB Research, said she expects Mr. Lewis to stick around until at least 2012 so he can pay back the $45 billion in government aid Bank of America received."

If that is a defeat, what does a victory look like?

Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.


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