Bank Watch

Activist investor pushing break-up proposal at Bank of America again

Bartlett Naylor, a Bank of America activist shareholder, speaks to media during a visit to Charlotte for the bank’s 2015 annual stockholders meeting.
Bartlett Naylor, a Bank of America activist shareholder, speaks to media during a visit to Charlotte for the bank’s 2015 annual stockholders meeting. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

A shareholder activist is taking another stab at a proposal calling for Charlotte’s Bank of America to study whether the bank should be broken up.

It marks the fourth time Bartlett Naylor has pushed such a motion. In 2015, a similar measure from Naylor received minimal shareholder support and failed to pass. In other years, Bank of America has successfully fought to prevent similar Naylor proposals from going to a shareholder vote.

In his latest proposal, which he submitted to the bank Tuesday, Naylor calls on the bank’s board of directors to examine whether divesting all non-core banking business segments would enhance shareholder value, and whether the bank should divide into a number of independent firms.

The proposal cites, among other things, the “disastrous Countrywide acquisition, misrepresentations during the Merrill Lynch acquisition, massive mortgage fraud (and) a $4 billion account(ing) error that festered for years before discovery.” The board should consider retaining independent advisers to carry out such an evaluation, says the measure, which Naylor wants investors to vote on at the bank’s annual shareholders meeting next spring.

A Bank of America spokesman declined to comment.

In arguing against a similar Naylor proposal in 2015, the bank noted that since 2010 it has trimmed hundreds of billions of dollars in assets from its balance sheet while also increasing its capital. Among other things, the bank said it continually assesses which businesses and assets would better support the company and return value to stockholders through divestitures.

Only 4.1 percent of voting investors supported a similar proposal from Naylor at Bank of America’s 2015 annual shareholder meeting.

In September, Naylor filed a shareholder proposal urging Wells Fargo to study the idea of breaking itself up, in the wake of the San Francisco-based bank’s fake-accounts scandal.

Naylor breakup proposals at Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase failed to pass earlier this year. Naylor is financial policy advocate for Washington, D.C.,-based consumer advocacy group Public Citizen.

Deon Roberts: 704-358-5248, @DeonERoberts

  Comments