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Investment banking hopes triumph over experience

Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis is aiming for a goal that no-one has yet achieved. He wants to be the first chief executive of a commercial bank to build a successful, sizeable and sustainable US investment-banking franchise. Plenty have tried - some are still trying - but whether domestic players or European banks they have in the end all had to make one of three choices: to buy, sell, or give up.

       
McClelland, Brown and Goldie-Morrison
(left to right): charged with putting
profitability before league table position
in investment banking


Ken Lewis, who celebrates his first anniversary as CEO of Bank of America later this month, believes his institution won't need to face the buy, sell or give-up choice faced by all previous US investment banking aspirants. But with his investment-banking unit, Banc of America Securities, he still has to follow exactly the same path as all those that have gone before him - to develop a meaningful franchise in equities and mergers&acquisitions.


It's how he intends to do it that is different. "We want to add equities and M&A expertise to our platform," he told Euromoney last month. "But we want to grow those franchises steadily and profitably."


There are no plans to allow the profits of one part of the business to subsidize the growth of another.



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