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Price of Merrill Declines As Bank Of America Share Sink

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As we predicted last night, shares of Bank of America are falling today after it announced that it was acquiring Merrill Lynch. The stock is off around 15 percent this morning. Because the acquisition of Merrill is an all stock transaction, with Merrill shareholders receiving 0.8595 shares of Bank of America for each share of Merrill, the stock movements mean that the market is now pricing the shares of Merrill significantly below the $29 per share first announced. Bank of America is now paying $24.63 for a share of Merrill.
Merrill shares continue to trade at a discount from Bank of America's, although you have to be cautious about reading too much into merger spreads in all stock deals. This could be a bet on further declines of bank of America stock, or a pricing of risk that the deal will not actually close. Alternatively, it could simply reflect the presence of speculative arbitrage in the market.

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Bank Of America Investors Still Don't Feel Properly Compensated For Having Merrill Lynch Rammed Down Their Throats

Remember in 2008, when Ken Lewis was all, "Oooh, wait, I don't know about this Merrill Lynch thing" and tried to back out of buying the bank? And Hank Paulson threatened to stuff him in a meat locker if he did so Ken Lewis said okay, fine, I'll do it? BAC investors are still upset about that. Bank of America directors’ $20 million settlement of investor lawsuits alleging the bank overpaid when it bought Merrill Lynch & Co. amounts to just 4 percent of the board’s $500 million in insurance coverage and is inadequate, lawyers objecting to the accord said. Attorneys for Bank of America shareholders suing in Delaware over the $50 billion acquisition of Merrill Lynch have asked a judge in that state to keep their claims alive even though a federal judge in New York is considering a $20 million settlement of almost identical suits brought by other bank investors. If that accord is approved, it could wipe out the Delaware claims. “The proposed settlement is grossly inadequate and represents only 0.4 percent of the value of the $5 billion derivative claims that the Delaware Derivative Plaintiffs have been vigorously pursuing,” lawyers for the Delaware investors said in a Delaware Chancery Court filing late yesterday. The settlement also amounts to “only 4 percent” of available insurance, they said. Disgruntled shareholders contend the board and former Chief Executive Officer Kenneth D. Lewis misled them about the brokerage firm’s losses leading up to the buyout and should have pulled the plug on the deal. Lewis, who left Bank of America in 2009, is now chairman of Chicago-based LaSalle Bank NA. [Bloomberg]