BofA director Gifford opposed by shareholder
Bank of America Corp. director Charles “Chad” Gifford (right, in Globe file photo) should be ousted at the annual meeting because he failed to protect investors in the purchase of Merrill Lynch & Co., shareholder Jonathan Finger said.
“Of all of the remaining directors, he was in a unique position to understand the issues,” Finger said in an interview.
Finger’s family-owned investment company, Finger Interests Ltd., urged shareholders to vote against Gifford in a regulatory filing. Gifford, 67, was chief executive officer of Fleet Boston Financial Corp., acquired by Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America in 2004 for $48 billion.
Bank of America paid too much for Merrill in January 2009, diluting the lender’s shares, Finger said. The number of shares outstanding increased 95 percent to 8.65 billion at the end of 2009 from two years earlier, reflecting the bank’s purchases of Merrill and Countrywide Financial Corp. The filing today opposes a bank proposal to increase the number of authorized shares by an additional 13 percent.
Finger and his father, Jerry Finger, last year pushed to strip the chairman’s title from former CEO Kenneth Lewis. Bank of America’s board on April 29 replaced Lewis as chairman in favor of director Walter Massey, a retired college president. Lewis stepped down as CEO on Dec. 31. The Fingers own 1.1 million shares of Bank of America, received when they sold their Houston-based community bank to the company more than a decade ago.
Bank of America’s annual meeting is April 28 in Charlotte. Bank of America is reducing the size of its board to 13 members this year, down from 18 at last year’s annual meeting. Massey turns 72 in April and isn’t standing for re-election.
Bank of America spokesman Scott Silvestri declined to comment.