BofA Names Some Countrywide Execs to Posts at Combined Mortgage Company

Bank of America Corp. (BAC) will retain a few key executives from Countrywide Financial Corp. (CFC) once the merger of the two companies is completed, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. BofA’s acquisition of Countrywide is expected to close in the third quarter. The Journal, citing sources with knowledge of the appointments, said that BofA soon-to-be mortgage head Barbara Desoer will retain Countrywide’s Andrew “Drew” Gissinger III, now an executive managing director at the Calabasas-based lender. Gissinger, a former football player and offensive lineman for the San Deigo Chargers, made headlines late last year for spearheading an internal morale campaign featuring wristbands that read “Protect Our House,” and for suggesting that outside attacks on Countrywide’s business practices should be taken personally by employees. At the time, Gissinger sought to pin blame for the mortgage mess on forces outside of the company. “Let’s call it like it is, as I mentioned earlier, it’s gotten to the point where our integrity is being attacked. NOW IT’S PERSONAL!” according to the now infamous transcript of Gissinger’s pep talk. “… And, WE’RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT!” Of course, things managed to get much worse after that campaign was launched, leading Countrywide to eventually agree to an acquisition by Bank of America in early 2008. Many of the wristbands were hawked on eBay by current and former employees, and are now part of industry lore. While Gissinger plans to stay, Countrywide’s top subprime production executive, Gregory Lumsden, will not. Lumsden will join president David Sambol and current CEO Angelo Mozilo in stepping down once the merger is complete; Sambol had initially been tapped to run the joint consumer mortgage business at BofA, but was forced out before taking the job due to pressure from key law makers and consumer lending groups. The Journal reported that other executives — Rebecca Mairone, Todd Dal Porto and Brian Hale — are also expected to stay, and will report to Gissinger. Countrywide shareholders vote on the acquisition on June 25; sources suggest to HW that the proposed sale of the company is likely to be approved. Disclosure: The author was long CFC, and held no positions in BAC, when this story was originally published. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.

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