) --

Bank of America's

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board didn't reach its goal of announcing a new CEO by Thanksgiving.


search committee intends to make a decision in the near future," said Bank of America spokesman Robert Stickler, in response to a question about the board's progress.

It was the third target date the company has let pass since current Chief Executive Ken Lewis announced his accelerated departure on Sept. 30. The board has had tremendous difficulty in the search because of several factors.

Lewis had set up a succession plan to allow internal candidates to compete and garner the experience necessary to run such a large, diverse banking franchise. It was expected that Lewis would stay on board quite a bit longer, grooming the top contender to take his place. But as legal entanglements and perception issues stemming from the

Merrill Lynch

acquisition mounted, he decided to call it quits.

There are reportedly two top internal candidates, Brian Moynihan, the head of consumer and small-business banking, and Greg Curl, chief risk officer. However, both have been criticized for having ties to the Merrill deal as well, and some have suggested that Moynihan lacks the necessary experience for the CEO role.

The list of suggested outside candidates -- including some from competitors like

JPMorgan Chase

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Goldman Sachs

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-- is long, but not all the names that have come up have been contacted by the board.

And many of those who would be well-suited for the role are already in positions they don't want to leave, such as

Bank of New York Mellon

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CEO Robert Kelly. Others have been turned off by the spectre of strict government oversight and compensation limits.

Bank of America shares were down 63 cents at $15.32 in recent trading.

-- Written by Lauren Tara LaCapra in New York