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Vote Count on BofA's Lewis Delayed

Updated: 1:28 pm.

Bank of America has delayed the release of results of a shareholder vote on whether CEO Ken Lewis should retain his position as chairman of the board.

Lewis bore the brunt of strong criticism of his recent leadership of the bank during its annual shareholders meeting this morning in Charlotte. He also received a good deal of support too.

Apparently, the vote is very close. Bank of America says it hopes to release the vote later today.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg News just reported, citing an unnamed sources, that the entire board was re-elected.

-- Michael Rosenwald

Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis just listened to a withering investor critique of his acquisition of Merrill Lynch, particularly the recent disclosure -- by Lewis -- that federal regulators pressured the company to make the deal.

"I find it incredible you didn't have the guts to stand up to the U.S. government," the investor said.

Lewis said: "We in fact made our decision independent of the threat of the government. You have your facts wrong."

The investor: "You have a code of ethics and you have violated it."

Lewis: "You have made your point."

-- Michael Rosenwald

Updated: 10:25 am.

Evelyn Y. Davis, the Holocaust survivor known as "The Queen of the Corporate Jungle," has just voiced a rousing -- and very, very loud -- defense of Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis. She said she has been a shareholder for 26 years and that Lewis has her full support.

She said criticism of Lewis was "absolutely outrageous," a statement that garnered huge applause. Her thoughts on the troubled Merrill Lynch purchase: Give it time.

-- Michael Rosenwald

In just under 10 minutes, Bank of America holds its annual shareholders meeting in Charlotte, N.C.

It will either be a bad day, a very bad day or a good day for embattled Chief Executive Officer and chairman Ken Lewis. Some shareholders are pushing for him to leave the company entirely. Others want him to give up day-to-day leadership but remain on the board. Some shareholders are sitting on their hands, taking a more wait-and-see approach.

The powerful California Public Employees’ Retirement System, also known as CalPERS, is reportedly going to vote against the bank's entire board.

Should be an interesting morning. We'll be blogging key developments from the meeting, which you can tune into here, if you wish. Otherwise we'll be listening for you and bringing you live updates here.

-- Michael Rosenwald

By Michael S. Rosenwald  |  April 29, 2009; 10:26 AM ET
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How do you defend the fact that you, as a shareholder, have lost a substantial value in your holdings while Merrill executives walked away with hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses, change of control payments and deferred compensation; none of which would have been received if Merrill had gone belly up?
Maybe Ms. Davis has lost her perspective.

Posted by: Ethicist | April 29, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

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