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Cheat Sheet: Brian Moynihan, Bank of America’s New CEO

Brian Moynihan, the head of of Bank of America’s retail operating divisions, was anointed the company’s CEO last night after the board’s well-publicized fishing expedition failed to lure anyone else in. Here is his story.

Age: 50
Origin: Moynihan grew up in Ohio, one of eight kids. He went to Brown (alas, he did not avail himself of the make-your-own-major program — he got a BA in history). He played rugby. Afterward, he went to law school, worked as a lawyer, then went to work at FleetBoston Financial, which was acquired by Bank of America in 2004. He lives in Wellesley, Massachusetts, but will have to move to Charlotte, North Carolina, to take the CEO gig. (Charlotte seems kind of unbearably excited about this turn of events.) He got the job partly because York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has been investigating the other guy, which doesn’t look so good and because, outgoing CEO Ken Lewis quipped this morning, “he actually wanted the job.”

We Hear Good Things!: “Brian Moynihan is one of those people who can effectively envision strategy and execute,” Lewis said last year. That is a fancy way of saying he is competent. Also, Moynihan is on the boards of YouthBuild Boston and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, which is nice.

We Hear Bad Things!: If the goal is to stop creating system-endangering banking behemoths, this is not necessarily the guy we want in charge. According to the Boston Globe, Moynihan was a key member of the team that helped Fleet gobble up smaller banks before it was absorbed into Bank of America.

He’s also impetuous: According to the Globe, he threatened to quit BofA in 2005, telling the board he’d rip up his employment contract. “Throwing away his golden parachute of severance benefits could have cost him millions if he were fired, but it also marked Moynihan as a risk-taker.” And some may think the job may be too much for him to handle: “I watched him testify in front of Congress (last month),” Tony Plath, a finance professor at the University of North Carolina, tells the Journal. “He didn’t know who the bank’s largest investor was. That scares me. He has to look over at Gifford (a BofA board) member looking for approval to answer the questions. He has to be in the same league now as Jamie Dimon. I don’t know if he’s there yet. I don’t know if he’s even in the same league as Vikram Pandit.”

Know Your BofA CEO Candidate: Brian Moynihan [WSJ]
Moynihan Pick Breaks BofA’s “Charlotte-based Mafia” [WSJ]
The many roles of Moynihan [Charlotte Observer]
New BofA CEO Moynihan got start in R.I. [Providence Journal]

Cheat Sheet: Brian Moynihan, Bank of America’s New CEO