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Making Sense of the Ken Lewis Departure Announcement

Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis announced he will leave the Charlotte-based banking giant at the end of the year.

Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis announced he will leave the Charlotte-based banking giant at the end of the year.Analysis from CNBC's Charlie Gasparino is provided in the following video. Gasparino speculates on who will inherit Lewis' seat out of a pool of six possible candidates. If he had to guess, it will come down to chief risk officer Greg Curl and Brian Moynihan, head of consumer and small business banking. The list also includes Sallie Krawcheck, head of wealth management; mortgage head Barbara DeSoer; Thomas Montag, head of global corporate and investment banking; and CFO Joe Price.

Lewis' departure will mark the end of an era at BofA, where he spent the last 40 years of his career. He has taken a good deal of heat for the Merrill Lynch acquisition and is a target in an investigation headed by New York AG Andrew Cuomo. According to Bloomberg, Cuomo said in a statement that Lewis' departure would not affect his probe.

Some also hold the opinion that politicians like Cuomo are making an example of Lewis as a way to punish the rest of the industry for the economic meltdown.

An opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal noted in reference to the "forced" acquisition of Merrill: "Few [Bank of America] shareholders are complaining, given the profits Merrill has been generating for the bank in recent months, but the pols apparently want a scapegoat for bailouts and bonuses. Mr. Lewis fits the bill."

Bloomberg said that Lewis emphasized the decision to leave was his, however.

"The Merrill Lynch and Countrywide integrations are on track and returning value already," Lewis noted in a release. "Our board of directors and our senior management include more talent, and more diversity of talent, than at any time in this company's history. We are in position to begin to repay the federal government's TARP investments. For these reasons, I decided now is the time to begin to transition to the next generation of leadership at Bank of America."

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