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Big Payouts and Promotions Were Afoot in the Banking Sector This Week

As much of the investing world expected, quarterly results from non-financial companies -- hello Apple, hello Facebook -- dominated business headlines this week. 

That's not to say there weren't developments in major financials, though. Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) , which has seen its share of high-cost legal settlements lately, appears to be headed toward another one. Credible media reports said that The Department of Justice is requesting that the company pay over $13 billion to retire charges that it overstated the quality of mortgage bonds during the financial crisis.

Sound familiar? It should. This comes on the heels of last month's $9.5 billion settlement over similar issues with the Federal Housing Finance Agency. $13 billion is an awfully bitter pill to swallow; hopefully no other wings of the government will line up to get their share of payout money from the bank.

In less alarming news, Citigroup (NYSE: C  ) held its annual general meeting, and it was a more harmonious affair than recent criticism of the firm seemed to herald. Nearly 85% of voters at the AGM approved its executive-compensation plan. That's good news for CEO and current lightning rod for said criticism, Michael Corbat, who for 2013 took home around $14.5 million.

That doesn't come near the roughly $20 million in compensation for JPMorgan Chase's (NYSE: JPM  ) honcho Jamie Dimon that year, or Wells Fargo  (NYSE: WFC  )  CEO John Stumpf's $19.3 million. But Corbat's pay stub was more or less in line with that of fellow big-bank chief executive Brian Moynihan of Bank of America, whose take was put at $14 million by his company.  

In the wake of the AGM, Citigroup went ahead with its latest capital allocation initiatives. It will dispense its usual $0.01 per share quarterly common stock dividend (to be paid May 23 to shareholders of record as of May 5), and launch a $1.165 billion repurchase program for that class of security, to run through Q1 of next year.

That $0.01 payout is irritatingly low, but Citigroup can only pay that or nothing; the Federal Reserve rejected the bank's proposal for an increase, as part of the regulator's annual Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review.

Meanwhile, one bank that had sailed through the CCAR and got the nod for its capital allocation proposals, PNC Financial Services (NYSE: PNC  ) , witnessed a big change at the top this week. Current CEO William Demchak, a company veteran, was elected chairman of the board of the powerful regional lender. He replaces fellow longtime executive James Rohr (the man he succeeded as CEO last year, by the way).

In other human resources news involving long-serving employees, Wells Fargo has dipped into its own ranks to head its crucial Securities division. The new boss is Jonathan Weiss, who's essentially been with the firm for nearly a decade. He fills the vacuum created by John Shrewsberry's ascension to CFO of Wells Fargo, which like Weiss's promotion will take effect on May 15.

That scary settlement figure for Bank of America aside, this week was eventful for the nation's big financials basically on the personnel front. Going forward, we'll see how and if those executive changes and pay packages affect the operations of the banks that enacted them.

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Eric Volkman

Eric has been writing about stocks and finance since the mid-1990s, when he lived in Prague, Czech Republic. Over the course of a varied career, he has also been a radio newscaster, an investment banker, and a bass player in a selection of rock and roll bands. A native New Yorker, he currently lives in Los Angeles.

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