Lewis on BofA’s Future: ‘A Thing of Beauty’

Strong and resilient was the message CEO Ken Lewis gave of Bank of America Corp. (BAC) in a televised interview with CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo Friday. “This company’s going to be a thing of beauty as we get to the other side of this [economic downturn] and it will be the envy of the financial services industry in terms of market shares,” Lewis said. In a bold and likely surprising statement, Lewis said Bank of America expects to pay back U.S. Treasury relief funds within the next three years, and “categorically” does not need additional government funding. The bank has thus far received up to $45 billion in TARP funds. He told CNBC the bank will not change its operations  based upon the relief funds based upon the relief funds. “[W]e’ll have the largest market shares and the best seller products in the best regions in the best country in the world. And then we’ll be complemented obviously with the international capabilities of Merrill Lynch,” Lewis proceeded. The purchase of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America has been questioned by many industry insiders, particularly on the heels of a “larger than expected” fourth-quarter loss by Merrill Lynch. But Lewis said he has no long-term regrets about buying Merrill Lynch. He proceeded to express satisfaction with another recently acquired mortgage vendor, Countrywide, saying its refinancing sector has been “on fire” in January. See the full transcript of the interview. Write to Kelly Curran at [email protected]. Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.

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