TARP Payback a Huge Win for BofA, Lewis
Outgoing CEO proves critics wrong and paves way for successor
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2009 10:58 AM CST
Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis.   (AP Photos)
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(Newser) – Bank of America’s move to repay $45 billion in TARP funds marks a triumph for the rehabilitated institution and especially beleaguered CEO Ken Lewis. Wooing a replacement for the retiring Lewis was proving exceedingly difficult as candidates declined to try to run the company with government scrutiny of executive pay. Then the CEO, who abruptly announced his departure in October, solved the problem.

Lewis must also be pleased that the much-maligned purchase of Merrill Lynch—which led to a second allotment of bailout funds and accusations that he paid too much and misled stockholders—has turned out quite nicely. Most of the funds BofA will use to pay off the government—some $26.2 billion—come from Merrill trading and dealmaking. The Treasury Department is also happy about the deal. “Confidence in the financial system increases,” a rep says, and “taxpayers are made whole.”