BofA’s Montag Becomes Sole COO as Darnell Seeks Transfer

Bank of America Corp.’s Thomas K. Montag, the lender’s top-paid senior manager, will become sole chief operating officer as co-COO David Darnell takes a new title so he can move to Florida.

Darnell, 61, will be vice chairman and continue overseeing global wealth and investment management, as well as business banking, Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan wrote in a memo to employees. Montag, who has split the COO job with Darnell since 2011, will still run the investment banking and capital markets businesses.

“David approached me to discuss how he could continue to provide strategic leadership for our company, while allowing him the opportunity to relocate to Tampa with his family,” Moynihan, 54, wrote in the memo, according to a copy obtained yesterday by Bloomberg News. In the new role, Darnell will “work across the company to execute our customer strategy, drawing on his knowledge of our businesses, markets and client relationships.”

Montag, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. trading head, has gained clout at Bank of America since joining the Charlotte, North Carolina-based firm with the 2009 takeover of Merrill Lynch & Co. He has earned more than Moynihan for four straight years while running operations that helped support earnings amid the company’s mortgage-related legal settlements.

‘Influential Position’

The move “enhances the influential position of Montag, creating sole ownership of his position and, given the fact that he has been the highest earner on more than one occasion in the company, underlines his importance,” said David De Cremer, KPMG professor of management studies at Cambridge University’s Judge Business School. “The symbolic message for the move of Darnell, usually, is that he will retire pretty soon.”

A spokesman for Bank of America couldn’t immediately comment on Darnell’s plans.

Montag, 57, and Darnell emerged as co-COOs during a shakeup three years ago that included the ouster of Sallie L. Krawcheck, who led wealth and investment management businesses. That left Darnell in charge of units providing an array of products and services to individuals and businesses.

Moynihan’s memo also included changes within those operations. Dean Athanasia, who leads preferred and small business banking, and Thong Nguyen, who runs retail banking, will report to the CEO as members of the management team. The Charlotte Observer reported the memo’s contents earlier yesterday.

Montag got a 6.9 percent raise to $15.5 million for 2013, according to a March regulatory filing. That compared with Darnell’s 5.3 percent raise to $10 million. Moynihan’s pay increased 17 percent to $14 million.

Bank of America climbed 7.1 percent in the past 12 months to $15.45 in New York trading. That compares with a 7.9 percent advance in the KBW Bank Index of 24 companies.

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