Fans of Bank of America ( BAC) CEO Ken Lewis aren't going to like this. A proxy battle is brewing, led by a small group of shareholders that hold about 1.1 million shares stemming from the sale of their formerly family owned bank to one of Bank of America's predecessors. This group calls itself Finger Investments, which is derived from the family name of the two principles, Jerry and Jonathan Finger. These former banking executives are none too pleased with what's become of their investment in Bank of America. Now with only 1.1 million shares, out of BofA's 6.4 billion outstanding shares, they haven't really got the goods to force any change. But they're making a go of it anyway. It's pretty outrageous, so I figured it's worth highlighting in Today's Outrage. Here's how serious they are -- they filed a 99-page notice to the SEC and set up a Web site, called www.bacproxyvote.com to bring their case directly to other shareholders. The Fingers urge shareholders to vote against Lewis and two other directors up for re-election. Generally, they seem to think BofA management "permanently destroyed shareholder value" and they are particularly incensed by the acquisition of Merrill Lynch. They've got plenty of other gripes, too. Whether you agree with these guys or not, I applaud them for standing up for what they think is right and for being an active participant in shareholder democracy.
If shareholders don't stand up for their rights and make their voices heard, they run the risk of being muzzled the way Citigroup ( C) did with its recent move to dilute common shares by converting preferred shares and then trim outstanding stock with a reverse split. No vote for Citi's common shareholders since the NYSE and SEC don't see a need. So BofA investors shouldn't get riled. They should appreciate the right of the Finger family to actively participate in shareholder issues. And if other shareholders disagree with them, then let their votes make their point. Viva Democracy!