Bank of America shareholders gave Ken Lewis a demotion today. Lewis will remain the bank's president and CEO, but he will lose his position as board chairman, the Wall Street Journal reports. Shareholders—angry about the bank's plummeting fortunes of late—voted to split the chairman and CEO duties. Walter E. Massey will succeed Lewis in the post.
During the tense meeting, Lewis defended the bank's purchases of Merrill Lynch and Countrywide under his watch. The deals are "looking more and more like successes to be celebrated," he said. He defended his decision to keep shareholders in the dark about Merrill's deteriorating finances but refused to offer more details about negotiations with the feds, citing ongoing litigation. "If you want to hear more, withdraw your lawsuit," Lewis told one investor.