Time was, Bank of America loved buying companies. Bonus points if there was a not-so-subtle suggestion by the target's CEO that BofA would one day be very sorry for doing so, or that they would've been better off picking up an asbestos manufacturer, or that they were looking at roughly $40 billion (and counting) in legal fees associated with fuck-ups that were to become Bank of America's problem, or that they would have night terrors for the rest of their lives about signing those papers. As it's been a while since BofA went shopping, some in the financial services industry have been wondering if we can expect any announcements re: big deals anytime soon or if Ken Lewis's unsolicited suggestions (Groupon, Sino Forest, The Thirsty Beaver, and most recently: "a P&C insurer with outsized exposure to the Northeast") are or have ever been under consideration? Sadly for fans of the Lewis Era/style of doing business, not so much. Mr. Moynihan said in response to an audience question [at the bank's two-day investor presentation conference for financial companies at the Plaza hotel] that the bank has "no acquisition plan at all." BofA's Moynihan Says Fiscal Cliff Impact Already Happening [WSJ]
And then decided that sticking with the "worst deal in the history of American finance," which has cost it $40 billion in cleanup so far, made them at least look like responsible adults, facing the consequences of their actions, rather than deadbeats trying to take the easy way out. Long before Sanford Weill suggested last week that big banks should split up, Bank of America executives and directors considered the idea and then decided against it, said people close to the nation's second-biggest bank by assets...Chief Executive Brian Moynihan and his team looked at a possible bankruptcy of Countrywide Financial Corp., the troubled mortgage operation it purchased in 2008. Management also studied whether it made sense to break off Merrill Lynch, the securities firm it purchased in 2009. Mr. Moynihan ultimately recommended to his board that neither action made sense. The company decided Merrill had become too big of a profit center and splitting it off could expose the brokerage firm to the sort of funding problems that killed off other Wall Street firms in 2008. Meanwhile, it felt bankruptcy of Countrywide might invite more legal and reputational troubles for Bank of America while exposing other subsidiaries to problems. Bank Breakups, Not So Fast [WSJ]
In June 2008, Countrywide founder and CEO Angelo Mozilo stood before a group of CFC shareholders and, through salty tears, told them that Bank of America would "reap the benefits of what we have sowed." He wasn't kidding, and in the 4+ years since Ken Lewis paid $4 billion for the place, BofA has had the pleasure of ponying up an additional $40 billion (and counting) in write-downs and legal fees associated with cleaning up Countrywide's messes, while CEO Brian Moynihan has publicly described the acquisition as an albatross around his neck. Additionally, Ang Moz forked over $67.5 million in 2010 to "resolve SEC claims that he misled investors," and separately, there has been talk by some that Countrywide contributed in no small way to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. In light of all that, does Ang Moz, have any regrets about the way his company was run? Not a fucking one and if he had to do it all over? He wouldn't change a thing.