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New BofA CEO to face shareholders at annual meeting April 28

http://66.225.205.104/JR20100318a.mp3

Bank of America has announced its annual shareholder meeting will be April 28 in uptown Charlotte. Last year's gathering featured protests and a major shake-up of the bank's board. BofA's new CEO Brian Moynihan is already off to an apologetic start anticipating his first shareholder meeting at the helm. Apologies aren't entirely unheard of in the corporate world. They're just usually along the lines of "Hey, we're sorry bad things happened to us." So it's striking to see new Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan say in his annual letter to shareholders "During the recent crisis, many of our collective business judgments missed the mark. We are moving ahead and making changes. . . " Corporate and securities law professor James Cox at Duke University says that's pretty unusual for a CEO of one of the nation's biggest banks. "It's not unusual to offer a mea culpa," says Cox. "But this has somewhat more personal responsibility cause it's not pointing to externalities, it's saying 'Our decisions have missed the mark.'" Moynihan's letter to shareholders strikes a conciliatory tone: We've heard your concerns and we're listening. The letter was posted to the BofA website yesterday along with proxy materials for the upcoming annual meeting. Cox says shareholders are still angry over Bank of America's poor performance in recent quarters and its beleaguered acquisition of Merrill Lynch. But he says Moynihan will be able to deflect some of the heat when he stands before shareholders next month. "He's in a new regime, and so the problems they'll be pointing to are the old sheriff Ken Lewis, not the new sheriff," notes Cox. Former CEO Ken Lewis faced shouts and jeers at last year's meeting. Shareholders voted to force him out of the chairmanship role on the bank's board. Several months later Lewis announced his plans to retire early.