SAN FRANCISCO — Declaring himself "appalled" by leaks of BankAmerica internal studies and strategies to the news media, newly named Chairman and Chief Executive A. W. Clausen has warned the company's 75,000 employees that such leaks "must stop."
"We can't do business in the press every day," said Clausen, whose remarks were contained in a videotape that was filmed last month to be shown to bank employees.
Spokesmen for financially ailing BankAmerica--parent of Bank of America, the nation's second-largest bank--said the videotape is for "internal use only," but a copy was surreptitiously provided to The Times by a high-ranking BankAmerica employee.
"Those of my colleagues in headquarters in San Francisco that are leaking to the press . . . are doing a tremendous disservice to the bank," Clausen said. "They are doing a tremendous disservice to us BankAmericans. And, may I say, they are doing a terrible disservice to themselves."
Clausen's comments came to light as BankAmerica's board of directors prepared to meet Monday, when they are expected to reject First Interstate Bancorp's takeover bid. Los Angeles-based First Interstate has offered a package of securities that it values at $3.4 billion, or $22 a share.
Clausen said earlier this month that BankAmerica's own restructuring plan, which includes the sale of discount broker Charles Schwab & Co. and other "non-essential" businesses, will raise BankAmerica's book value--assets minus liabilities--to $24 a share.
In the videotape, Clausen told employees that BankAmerica's management must look at the company "through the eyes of" First Interstate and other potential suitors. Management must ask: "What is the real value of some of our businesses, some of our entities, some of our franchises?"
That, Clausen said, "is part of the process of evaluating what we are really worth."
Clausen emphasized that BankAmerica, which has suffered operating losses approaching $1.5 billion in the past seven quarters, must sharply cut costs. "We can't survive and get along with rose-colored glasses," he said. With customers, shareholders and the financial community "questioning our performance and managerial capability," he said, the bank sorely needs a "pragmatic and realistic" plan.
Clausen, who headed BankAmerica during the 1970s and returned to its top job in October after a single five-year term as president of the World Bank, scoffed at what he called "diatribes" that have depicted him as a "dictator."
Said Clausen: "I hope the staff realizes that is to sell newspapers."