Chad Gifford, one of the leading figures in Boston’s financial community, will end a 50-year career in banking next month when he retires from the board of Bank of America Corp.
Gifford, 73, has served on Bank of America’s board since 2004 after he helped engineer the sale of FleetBoston Financial Corp., where he was chief executive, to the Charlotte-based giant. He served as Bank of America’s chairman from April 2004 to January 2005, and is a longtime ally of the bank’s chief executive, Brian Moynihan, who also was an executive at FleetBoston.
“We have greatly benefited from his judgment and experience,” Moynihan wrote in a letter to stockholders about Gifford’s retirement.
Gifford began in banking at the old Bank of Boston, which was eventually acquired by Fleet. Gifford, who was not available for comment, was an old-school banker and powerbroker in Boston who built relationships with business and community leaders in the city.
He helped bring the sides together in 2000 to come up with a new Boston public school teacher contract and played a key role in negotiating to keep the New England Patriots in Foxborough.
“If you had done business in Boston, you needed to know Chad Gifford,” said Bruce Spitzer, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Bankers Association, who has worked for Gifford.
The sale of FleetBoston, then New England’s largest bank, was controversial as business and civic leaders worried that key decisions affecting Greater Boston would be made in Charlotte and Bank of America would not have the same commitment to the region. Gifford at the time defended the merger and said banks needed to be larger to remain competitive and that the merged bank would keep key positions in Boston and continue its philanthropy in the city.
When Gifford retired as an executive of Bank of America in 2005, he received a $16 million severance package, plus the right to purchase Red Sox tickets from the bank’s corporate tickets for the rest of his life.
Gifford was the highest paid nonmanagement director on Bank of America’s board last year, earning more than $607,000 in fees, stock award and other compensation, including a secretary and office space. Gifford also still continues to earn essentially a pension from Bank of America. As part of a supplemental retirement plan, the bank has been paying him about $3.1 million annually for life since 2005.
Bank of America announced Gifford’s retirement from the board in its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday. His last day will be the bank’s annual meeting on April 27.