Barbara Desoer, the president of Bank of America's home loans division who was once considered a possible successor to former Chief Executive Ken Lewis, will retire at the end of February, BofA said Friday.

Desoer, 59, led the integration of four major acquisitions by Bof A, including Fleet Financial, MBNA, U.S. Trust and LaSalle Bank.

A management shake-up in October by BofA's CEO Brian Moynihan left Desoer with her division president title but little power.

Though Desoer made attempts to deal with BofA's acquisition of the giant lender Countrywide Financial Corp., the magnitude of Countrywide's problems and the reshuffling by Moynihan that streamlined the chain of command under two top deputies, co-chief operating officers David Darnell and Thomas Montag, presaged Desoer's exit.

Moynihan said in a statement Friday: "Barbara has had a distinguished career at Bank of America over the last 34 years. I appreciate all that she has done for the company and wish her the best in her future endeavors."

In testimony before Congress more than two years ago, Desoer said the mortgage industry would not recover without improvement in the job market.

Desoer is a member of the board of U.C. Berkeley's Haas School of Business and UCLA's Anderson School of Business. She was attending a board meeting at Berkeley Friday and unavailable for comment, said BofA spokesman Dan Frahm.

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