Bank of America CFO de Molina resigning

NEW YORK Fri Dec 1, 2006 11:18pm GMT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bank of America Corp. (BAC.N), Chief Financial Officer Alvaro de Molina on Friday said he will resign at year end after just 16 months in the job, calling the regulatory and oversight burdens "suffocating."

Joe Price, 45, the bank's risk management executive for global corporate and investment banking, will become CFO on January 1, 2007. De Molina will assist in the transition through the end of March and then plans to leave the No. 2 U.S. bank by assets, where he has worked since 1989.

The sudden departure of de Molina, a 49-year-old Havana native, means Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America will have its fourth CFO in less than three years. His predecessor, Marc Oken, stepped down as CFO in September 2005 after just 17 months.

In an interview, de Molina said he found the CFO role "suffocating" because of regulatory and oversight hassles, including compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which implemented a wide range of corporate governance reforms.

"The role of the CFO and the CEO are not as fun as they used to be from a regulatory standpoint, but the CEO gets to run the show," he said. "The CFO of a well-run company gets all of the guts but none of the glory."

A blue-ribbon report issued Thursday by the Committee on Capital Markets Regulation, a group whose creation was supported by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, called for changes to Sarbanes-Oxley to make compliance less burdensome and costly.

De Molina has received praise from investors and Wall Street analysts for improving the quality of the bank's disclosures and communications, but like many CFOs has struggled to preserve the bank's lending margins in a tough interest rate environment.

In the interview, de Molina said he has not pursued new employment opportunities.

"I would embrace a CEO role somewhere, but not a CFO role," he said.

Bank of America shares closed down 35 cents at $53.50 Friday on the New York Stock Exchange. They fell another 50 cents in after-hours electronic trading.

SUCCESSION

Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis elevated de Molina to CFO two months after tapping him to run Banc of America Securities. Previously, de Molina was president of global capital markets and investment banking and had overseen treasury operations.

"Between Treasury and GCIB (the global corporate and investment bank), I spent 12 to 15 years running, gunning and building and then I moved to the CFO role because Ken needed me to," de Molina said. "It's not a run, gun and build type of position."

Lewis, 59, has run Bank of America since 2001 and not publicly said when he might step down.

"Ken is going to be around a long time, and yes, I didn't see that as an avenue," de Molina said.

Price joined Bank of America in 1993 from PriceWaterhouse, where he specialized in banking, acquisitions and derivatives.

Before taking his current job in 2003, he had been a corporate risk executive, general auditor and consumer finance president at the bank.

On Tuesday, Bank of America passed Citigroup for the first time to become the world's largest bank by market value. As of Friday's close, Citigroup had regained the lead, $242.6 billion to $240.3 billion.

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