Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bank's CEO Search Skids Amid Toilet-Paper Flap

by Anil Whipple, TYDN Bailout Affairs Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- (TYDN) Bank of America Corp. suffered a setback in its 10-week search for a chief executive after talks with the leading outside candidate ended over a dispute concerning toilet-paper thickness, forcing the board to reconsider two internal contenders, TheYellowDailyNews has learned.

Robert Kelly, the CEO of Bank of New York Mellon Corp., had jumped ahead of two top BofA executives to become the leading candidate to succeed Kenneth Lewis, who is set to retire at year's end, people familiar with the matter told TheYellowDailyNews on condition of anonymity.

But even after BofA paid back the government's $45 billion bailout, in part to free it from pay limits so it could attract a top-notch CEO, the bank's board and Mr. Kelly couldn't reach a deal on how thick the toilet paper should be in the bank's Charlotte, North Carolina executive suite. Mr. Kelly had asked for a paltry pay package of about $20 million annually, but also demanded hefty 6-ply toilet paper, people with direct knowledge of the negotiations told TheYellowDailyNews on condition of anonymity.

"The board was OK with the $20 million a year but decided 5-ply toilet paper was the limit so discussions with Mr. Kelly have ended," at least three sources with direct knowledge of the deal told TheYellowDailyNews on condition of anonymity. "A gold-plated toilet was one thing. But 6-ply, that shocks the conscience."

Economists said it was the first time in recent memory a major U.S. company exercised outstanding corporate governance practices to curtail waste and protect its assets.

Shares of BofA soared in extended trading on the New York Stock Exchange. President Obama immediately praised the banking concern.

"I've been bashing bankers for months and this act of corporate responsibility wipes the slate clean," Obama said in an exclusive interview with TheYellowDailyNews.

A White House spokesman declined to confirm or deny reports that the Oval Office is stocked with 7-ply.

Meanwhile, following Mr. Kelly's decision to withdraw from consideration, BofA directors may tap either Chief Risk Officer Gregory Curl or Brian Moynihan, president of consumer and small business banking, people familiar with the matter told TheYellowDailyNews.

Sources said these candidates were willing to accept a board-mandated 5-ply tissue limit so long as their compensation package included a "personal hygienic" bathroom assistant. The $20 million annually salary deal would also provide an exit package of $25 million no matter how well BofA or its stock performs.

Environmentalists hailed the proposal, saying 5-ply toilet tissue "is the greener route to go."

PhotoThe Consumerist