Bank of America Corp. yesterday promoted Brian Moynihan to chief executive officer, putting him in charge of repairing the company after the tumultuous takeover of Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. pushed Ken Lewis into early retirement.

Moynihan, 50, the head of the consumer-banking unit, takes over at year's end, the Charlotte, N.C., bank said yesterday in a statement. Lewis, 62, said Sept. 30 that he would step down by the end of this year.

"What we need to do now is very simple," Moynihan said in the statement. "We need to execute."

Bank of America's new leader must stanch defaults on consumer loans tied to the recession, which led to two losses in the last four quarters. He must also integrate Merrill Lynch and smooth relations with regulators after they clashed with Lewis over the purchase.

Moynihan joined Bank of America through its 2004 purchase of FleetBoston Financial Corp. At BofA, he has been president of the global wealth and investment-management unit, spent a month in 2008 as general counsel, then replaced former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain in January to head the investment-bank and wealth-management units. In August, he was assigned to head the retail bank, including oversight of credit card operations.