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Wachovia, Wells pick executives to lead integration of the firms

As they prepare to merge later this year, Wachovia Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. have named veteran executives to lead the integration.

Steve Boehm, leader of Wachovia's card and payment solutions group, will represent the Charlotte bank in the transition planning, spokeswoman Christy Phillips-Brown said Monday. Boehm helped lead Wachovia's merger with Alabama-based SouthTrust Corp. and launched the company's credit card unit in 2005. Bob Ryan will become the interim head of the card and payment solutions group.

On the Wells Fargo side, Pat Callahan, head of corporate social responsibility, will lead the integration for the San Francisco-based bank, spokeswoman Julia Tunis Bernard said. Callahan is a 31-year company veteran whose current job includes tasks such as the bank's response to climate change. Previously, she has been head of human resources as well as compliance and enterprise risk management.

Wells is buying an ailing Wachovia in a deal valued initially at $15 billion.

Rick Rothacker

American Banker names

Ken Lewis Banker of the Year

Ken Lewis, chief executive of Charlotte's Bank of America Corp., was named the 2008 Banker of the Year by the American Banker trade publication. It's been a good year for Lewis, 61, who's emerged triumphant as banks around him have crumbled. Though earnings are down over the year, Bank of America became No. 1 in mortgage lending this summer when it snapped up Countrywide Financial Corp., and it's set to become the biggest wealth-management firm when it completes its purchase of Merrill Lynch.

Lewis won the award once before, in 2001, his first year as CEO. During Lewis' tenure, Bank of America has doubled annual revenues and profits. David Longobardi, editor in chief of the daily trade publication, called Lewis “an exemplar of how a big U.S. bank should behave in a crisis environment.”

Christina Rexrode

Black and female brokers take BofA, Merrill Lynch to court

Bank of America Corp. and Merrill Lynch & Co. were sued by black and female Merrill brokers claiming they've been largely excluded from a retention-bonus plan.

George McReynolds, the lead plaintiff in a racial-discrimination lawsuit against New York-based Merrill, plus eight other men and women, filed the new suit in Chicago federal court Friday. Because workers eligible for the retention plan are ranked according to productivity, the new complaint says, black and women brokers already deprived of the same support as their white male counterparts will receive little or no retention pay.

“There's no merit to these claims and we'll vigorously defend against this suit,” Mark Herr, a Merrill Lynch spokesman, said.

Bloomberg News