David Coulter: Why Bof A's President Is Out

David Coulter, 51, stunned Wall Street when he announced on Oct. 20 he was stepping down as BankAmerica president. But some insiders say the departure was no surprise.

Sanford Robertson, an ex-BankAmerica board member and Coulter's longtime friend, says that ever since NationsBank announced its merger with BofA last spring, it was clear that the Charlotte (N.C.) giant wanted more control. That put Coulter in jeopardy: Many had seen him as in line for the top job when ex-NationsBank chief Hugh McColl Jr. retires as BofA chairman and CEO.

Neither Coulter nor McColl would comment beyond expressing shared regret. But Robertson says plunging quarterly earnings, largely due to a $372 million write-off of a $1.4 billion loan backed by BofA under Coulter for hedge fund D.E. Shaw, provided the ammo McColl and his board needed. "I thought they would look for their opening to get rid of Dave, and they saw it with D.E. Shaw," says Robertson. Industry sources say other heads may now roll--especially those close to the old BofA.

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