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Bank of America CEO job may be a tough sell

Add Bob Kelly to the list of financial services executives who aren't clamoring for the top job at Bank of America Corp.

The Bank of New York Mellon Corp. CEO was approached in the past couple of weeks about becoming the Charlotte bank's leader but he said he had no interest, a person familiar with the situation said Monday. Kelly, who previously served as Wachovia Corp.'s chief financial officer, wasn't contacted directly by the bank but through an acquaintance, the person said.

Kelly's lack of interest is the latest sign that the bank's board is finding it tough to replace Ken Lewis, who announced Sept. 30 that he's stepping down at year's end. Lewis, CEO since 2001, has been under fire for his Merrill Lynch & Co. acquisition, but the timing of his decision apparently blindsided the board.

Experts said the board members are in a difficult spot. They have to find a candidate capable of running a company as complicated and diverse as Bank of America at a time when it's under close government scrutiny. And the normal enticement for this sort of job — big paychecks — has been crimped, as the federal government places strict rules on executive pay at companies that hold government loans. Last month, the federal pay czar asked Lewis to give up his 2009 salary.

Rochdale Securities analyst Dick Bove wrote Monday that he couldn't figure out why the board or the government "would believe that an outsider with a good job would go to Bank of America where his pay would be restricted and he would be forced to submit to bullying by the banking regulators."

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