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BofA's CEOs through the decades

By Rick Rothacker
rrothacker@charlotteobserver.com

While it's an amalgamation of acquired banks from around the country, Bank of America counts four main chief executive officers in its Charlotte family tree. Now it's adding a fifth: Brian Moynihan.

Starting in the 1950s, these four CEOs took a small Charlotte bank and aggressively expanded it beyond the city, North Carolina and the Southeast, creating a coast-to-coast giant that is now international. These four men were groomed from within and later smoothly handed the job to their successors.

Here's a look at their legacies:

Addison Reese: Recruited to Charlotte-based American Trust as an executive vice president in 1951, he became CEO after American Trust and Charlotte's Commercial National Bank merged in 1957 to form American Commercial Bank. In 1960, American Commercial merged with Security National Bank of Greensboro and took a new name: North Carolina National Bank, or NCNB. Reese was known for reviving the bank with young recruits, striving to become larger than N.C. rival Wachovia, which was based in Winston-Salem, and setting the stage for growth outside the state.

Tom Storrs: When Reese retired, Storrs became CEO in 1974. He was a former Federal Reserve official in Charlotte, recruited by Reese in 1960. He led the bank through difficult times in the 1970s and pushed his lieutenants to find a way to expand outside North Carolina. Using a loophole in Florida law, NCNB succeeded in buying a bank in that state, First National Bank of Lake City, in 1982, giving it an edge over Southeastern rivals.

Hugh McColl Jr.: When Storrs retired, McColl became CEO in 1983. He joined the bank as a recruit in 1959 and quickly became one of the executives vying to run the company. He led the bank's acquisition spree in the Southeast and then boldly moved into Texas in 1988 with the FDIC-assisted purchase of First RepublicBank. NCNB adopted the NationsBank name in 1991 and then the Bank of America moniker in 1998 after it bought San Francisco's BankAmerica.

Ken Lewis: McColl passed the post to Lewis at the 2001 shareholders meeting. Lewis, who joined NCNB in 1969 as a credit analyst, became known for parachuting into new states to make McColl's acquisitions work. Early in his CEO tenure, he focused on improving operations and customer service. Later, he forged major deals to buy FleetBoston Financial, MBNA, LaSalle, Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch. Under fire for the Merrill deal, he announced on Sept. 30 that he would retire at year's end. The board began searching for a successor.

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