Bank of America ( BAC) CEO Ken Lewis likely will face a much chillier reception at the company's annual shareholder meeting next month than he did at his first, nearly eight years prior.

At that emotional meeting on April 25, 2001, Lewis' retiring predecessor Hugh McColl handed over the reins to his protégé. McColl, who earned a reputation over 18 years as an aggressive leader who built a small Southern bank into a national franchise, at the time bragged that "immodestly, we can, in fact, claim to have built the first nationwide coast-to-coast franchise, stretching across the best markets in the United States."

But this year, Lewis is preparing to face an onslaught of investor fury over what some see as his drive to expand the firm's size at the expense of shareholder value. At least two high-profile investment groups have gone public with calls for his ouster, citing an investigation into the company's shotgun wedding with Merrill Lynch, and a nearly 85% decline in BofA's market value, fueled by a lack of confidence in Lewis' ability to lead the firm back to solid ground.

"Our goal is the same as management, and that is to see the company return to strong financial health," says Jonathan Finger, a partner of the investment firm Finger Management, which is urging shareholders to vote against re-electing Lewis as chairman of the board. "We certainly don't mean to be disruptive and Ken Lewis has a history of being a good operator. But there is a credibility issue."

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