Could this be the beginning of the end for Bank of America’s Ken Lewis? In a narrow vote, the bank’s shareholders have removed him as chairman, though he will remain chief executive officer and president. The New York Times calls the vote a referendum on his leadership and said it could signal the end of his reign at the American banking giant. During Lewis’ tenure, the bank has more than doubled its deposits and expanded its credit card and mortgage operations, but he’s been criticized for his acquisitions of Merrill Lynch and Countrywide. Lewis on Wednesday defended those decisions: “Let me be clear: Merrill Lynch and Countrywide led the way for our first-quarter earnings. Today I can state without reservation that these acquisitions are not mistakes to be regretted. Both are looking more and more like successes to be celebrated.” He’ll be succeeded as chairman by Walter Massey.