Bank of America Making Presence in Boston


Bank of America Corp., which endured sharp cries of broken promises from state officials after it cut jobs at former Fleet branches, announced Thursday that it would move its wealth and investment management business to Boston.

The move concentrates one of the company's four major business lines in the city and seeks to reassure Massachusetts officials that the company, which completed its acquisition of FleetBoston Financial Corp. in April, is committed to the Northeast.

Under the plan, key executives and supporting staff will join Brian Moynihan, president of wealth and investment management, in Boston.

"We know that Boston is the ideal home for this business, which will be a significant growth engine for our company in the future," said Ken Lewis, chief executive and president.

The wealth and investment management business has more than $690 billion in client assets under administration, including $440 billion in assets under management.

Lewis said the move is part of a vision outlined a year ago by chairman former Fleet CEO Chad Gifford to ensure that Boston played a significant role in the merged banks.

The wealth and investment management business and supporting staff units have been located in other parts of the Charlotte, N.C.-based company's franchise.

The $48 billion merger of Bank of America and Fleet was the latest in a series of banking mergers nationally that have led to job cuts aimed at helping the newly combined banks become more efficient.

Bank of America has said it will be early in 2006 before steps to integrate the two banks' operations are complete.

Criticism of Bank of America grew after August layoffs at former Fleet branches and the company's refusal to disclose specific job-cut figures. Media reports suggested hundreds were being laid off, and some officials complained that the bank broke pre-merger promises to maintain employment levels. Lewis later disclosed 135 branch positions were cut in Massachusetts.

Treasurer Tim Cahill, who had threatened to withdraw $120 million in state business, did not immediately return a call for comment Thursday.

Bank of America shares fell 26 cents Thursday to $43.66 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.



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