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Bank of America 'will choose emergency CEO this week'

Bank of America directors are to select an emergency chief executive officer (CEO) this week following concerns that current CEO Kenneth Lewis will have to step down earlier than planned, according to a media report.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Mr Lewis, who announced he is to retire at the end of the year last week, may be forced to leave Bank of America earlier than expected due to legal problems.

New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo may be set to bring civil securities fraud charges against Mr Lewis, while last month a judge rejected a proposed Bank of America deal with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Bank chairman Walter Massey will lead a five-person selection committee in choosing the new emergency CEO, a separate panel to the one formed last week in order to find a permanent successor to Mr Lewis.

Mr Lewis has been attacked for several of the acquisitions made in the final year of his tenure, most notably the deal to buy Merrill Lynch for $29 a share on September 15th 2008, the same day that Lehman Brothers went bust.

Since then Bank of America shares have dropped 50 per cent as government agencies began scrutinising the Merrill Lynch deal for possible wrongdoing.

By Claire Archer