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Bank of America board 'narrows internal list for CEO post to two'

The Bank of America committee entrusted with finding a replacement to chief executive officer Kenneth Lewis has narrowed its field of internal candidates for the job down to two, according to media reports.

Inside sources have told the Wall Street Journal that Gregory Curl, Bank of America chief risk officer, and Brian Moynihan, who is in charge of consumer and small business banking at the firm, will be fighting it out for the top job.

But the committee will also consider several external applicants for the job, in a list that is believed to include Gregory Fleming, the former president and chief operating officer of Merrill Lynch.

The committee may even add more internal candidates to the list if given specific recommendations by Bank of America directors.

Mr Moynihan is viewed as a leading contender for the job thanks to his wide-ranging experience within the organisation.

Since joining Bank of America in 2004, he has run the wealth management and the investment bank divisions, and served as general counsel on the Merrill Lynch deal.

At 49 years old his appointment would be a more long-term one than that of Mr Curl, who is 61.

Mr Curl has managed to avoid being dragged into the legal strife that has recently plagued the bank over the Merrill Lynch deal, despite the fact he was the lead negotiator.

He has been involved with Bank of America since 1997, when he engineered the $10 billion sale of Boatmen's Bancshares to NationsBank Corporation, the forerunner to Bank of America.

Mr Curl was appointed chief risk officer in summer 2008 and worked closely alongside Mr Lewis.

The current CEO announced his voluntary retirement last week amid a storm of allegations surrounding the Merrill Lynch deal in September 2008, which saw Bank of America buy the beleaguered financial services firm for $29 a share on the same day Lehman Brothers went bankrupt.

In his resignation letter he defended the deal and said: "I am gratified that even some of the critics of our acquisition of Merrill Lynch have come to acknowledge how well the deal is working out for our clients."

By Claire Archer