Bank Watch

Spangler: Moynihan should keep chairman title

Charlotte business C.D. “Dick” Spangler is shown here in a file photo from 2009. Spangler, whose family is a major shareholder in Charlotte-based Bank of America, said he is “absolutely” satisfied with the job CEO Brian Moynihan has done.
Charlotte business C.D. “Dick” Spangler is shown here in a file photo from 2009. Spangler, whose family is a major shareholder in Charlotte-based Bank of America, said he is “absolutely” satisfied with the job CEO Brian Moynihan has done.

Count Charlotte businessman C.D. “Dick” Spangler as among Bank of America shareholders who support CEO Brian Moynihan remaining the lender’s chairman.

On Tuesday, Spangler, whose family is a major shareholder in the Charlotte-based bank, told me his family has already voted in favor of a proposal that would allow the lender’s CEO to also hold the chairman title. Their vote comes ahead of a Sept. 22 special meeting for shareholders to decide whether to ratify the lender’s decision last fall to recombine the chairman and CEO roles.

Pension funds and some other large shareholders oppose the recombination, citing “missteps” the bank has face under Moynihan, CEO since 2010.

But Spangler said he’s “absolutely” satisfied with the job Moynihan has done.

“Mr. Moynihan has the capabilities to lead in both positions,” Spangler said. “I have absolute confidence (in Moynihan) or I would have not voted my family’s shares in the way we did for Mr. Moynihan holding both positions.”

Spangler, 83, has a net worth of $2.4 billion, ranking him No. 272 on Forbes magazine’s annual list of the 400 richest Americans. His family owns Charlotte-based National Gypsum, a privately held producer of gypsum board. He declined to disclose his family’s stake in Bank of America.

According to a securities filing from 2009, Spangler, his wife, their family members and family businesses owned about 32 million shares of Bank of America common stock. Spangler’s wife, Meredith, resigned from the bank’s board that year after turning 72, the lender’s age limit for directors.

On Tuesday, Spangler said one factor on which he’s based his vote ahead of the Sept. 22 meeting: studies examining the performance of companies with independent and nonindependent chairs.

“There’s no correlation that research has found to prove that one of those methods is better than the other,” he said.

In making Moynihan chairman, the bank undid a bylaws change the lender made in 2009 to split the chairman and CEO roles after shareholders voted to do so. Bank of America did not consult with shareholders before rolling back the bylaws change, a move that has angered some investors and prompted prominent shareholder-advisory firms to recommend shareholders vote against recombining the roles.

“I would say, first off, not one of those persons has ever had the responsibility of running a bank, so they have no hands-on concept of the difficulties that Mr. Moynihan has faced in this recovery period of the last few years,” Spangler said.

If investors don’t like how Moynihan is running the bank, “they could sell their shares,” Spangler said.

Under Moynihan, the bank’s share price has remained well below pre-financial crisis levels. At some of its peer banks, share prices are above pre-crisis levels.

Does that frustrate Spangler?

“It would take a lot more than that to get me frustrated,” he said.

On Tuesday, another billionaire expressed support for Moynihan.

In an interview with CNBC, investor Warren Buffett said Moynihan turned around a company “that was just a terrible mess.”

"If I could vote, I would vote as management suggests, which is to have Brian take on the CEO and chairman job," Buffett said.

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