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]
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Remember in 2008, when Ken Lewis was all, "Oooh, wait, I don't know about this Merrill Lynch thing, it looks kinda bad, I don't think I want to buy it anymore, I'm nervous [bites nails, shifts weight from one foot to the other like he has to pee]" and tried to back out of the deal? And Hank Paulson threatened to stuff him in a meat locker if he did so Lewis said okay, fine, I'll buy it and then did, for more than one might think is reasonable to pay for a ticking time bomb? 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]

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No One Told Ken Lewis Shareholders Needed To Know About Merrill's Massive Losses, Okay?

Remember in 2008, when Ken Lewis was all, “Oooh, wait, I don’t know about this Merrill Lynch thing, it looks kinda bad, I don’t think I want to buy it anymore, I’m nervous [bites nails, shifts weight from one foot to the other like he has to pee]” and tried to back out of the deal? And Hank Paulson threatened to stuff him in a meat locker if he did so Lewis said okay, fine, I’ll buy it and then did, without mentioning anything to shareholders about Merrill's impending losses? Well 1) People are still upset about it but 2) Ken was under the impression shareholders were on a need to know basis. Top executives at Bank of America Corp did not tell shareholders just prior to a 2008 vote on its purchase of Merrill Lynch & Co that losses were mounting and expected to weigh down earnings for years, papers filed in private shareholder litigation show. But the bank and former Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis said in their own court papers that they should not be liable to shareholders who claimed to have lacked information they needed to vote on the once $50 billion merger. Lewis also said he had been advised by the bank's law firm and chief financial officer that no disclosure was necessary. No further questions. BofA masked Merrill loss before 2008 vote: filings [Reuters]

John Thain Is Ready For His Next Challenge

After he was unceremoniously fired from his post at the newly formed Bank of America Merrill Lynch, for reasons that included paying out big bonuses to ML executives and decorating his office with $1,500 garbage cans, John Thain understood that he would have to recede from the limelight for a bit. Take a job at a smaller firm and keep his head down for a while. Spend more time with his honeybees. Get back to his fighting weight. Drink a raw egg for breakfast every day. Run up and down the stairs of the Met. Work in a hideously decorated space, no matter how much it hurt.  Win some awards. Get his confidence back. Let people miss him. Well, Thain did all that. And now? He's ready for you to make him an offer. Thain, currently the CEO of a small lending outfit called CIT Group, has been quietly shopping the firm to a larger player with the goal of selling possibly to a big bank and emerging as a candidate to run the bigger company, according to investment bankers with direct knowledge of the matter. Bankers say Thain began putting out feelers to sell CIT after the firm failed in its bid to purchase ING Direct earlier in the year. “They've been shopping themselves off and on because they have virtually no deposit base and thus no low-cost source of funds to run their business,” said one banker at a major firm with knowledge of CIT’s activities. “Thain may also be putting out feelers, trying to get a drumbeat going. Who knows, but it's certain he's up to something.” Anyone want to give him a big boy bank (or something) to run? Read more: http://www.foxbusiness.com/business-leaders/2012/09/24/thain-shopping-cit-group-around/#ixzz27QKGqqhE Looking For A Comeback, John Thain Shops CIT [FBN]

Layoffs Watch '12: Bank Of America

In April 2010, Bank of America said ENOUGH. Enough with this losing of money business. We want to know what it's like to have a quarter in which we actually make a little-- wouldn't that be something? As this was a very lofty goal for the firm, the higher-ups knew they had to get serious-- really focus and hone in an on plan of action. First, they gave their new (money-making) mission a special codename: Project New BAC. Then, 44 executives "fanned out around the company to ask employees low- and high-level for ideas on how BofA [could]...reduce expenses." As we now know, what they came up with re: the reduction of expenses was that 30,000 people should be fired and over the last year, exactly that has happened. And even though a whole bunch of senior people have quit, which has helped the bottom line a bit, it hasn't been enough for meddlesome investors to put a sock in it re: "reining in expenses" and "profit outlook" in general. So, a couple things are going to happen: 1. A whole bunch of well-paid* bankers are going to be escorted out of the building and 2. In order to pick up the slack left, clusters of junior bankers are going to put in a van which will drop them off in whatever division needs them most at the time. The Charlotte, N.C., company is planning about 2,000 staff cuts in its investment banking, commercial banking and non-U.S. wealth-management units, said people familiar with the situation. Those operations were vastly expanded with Bank of America's 2009 purchase of Merrill Lynch & Co. The reductions are significant because of whom they target: the high-earning employees whose efforts helped Merrill Lynch account for the bulk of Bank of America's profit since the financial crisis. The cuts come on top of a plan announced last year that will see Bank of America eliminate 30,000 jobs over three years in its consumer banking divisions...The No. 2 U.S. bank by assets already is facing a wave of high-profile defections in its institutional businesses, such as investment banking, amid Wall Street's annual post-bonus job-hopping season. The upheaval comes as investors are pressuring banks to rein in expenses without giving ground competitively. Despite a 46% rise this year, Bank of America shares have lost a third of their value in the past year, amid questions about the industry's profit outlook. Cutbacks aren't Bank of America's only response to surging costs. The bank is loath to cut too deeply in businesses, such as the fixed-income trading operation, that are showing improvement and highly competitive. One structural shift being planned will pool junior investment-banking employees across different industry sectors so the younger bankers can be routed to whatever area is most in demand at that moment, said people familiar with the situation. Proponents say that move will help younger workers gain more experience, while others say it will detract from the bank's service to clients. BofA To Cut From Elite Ranks [WSJ] *For BofA.

Whistleblowing Bank Of America Quite A Bit More Lucrative Than Working For Bank Of America

Just something to keep in mind. A former Countrywide Financial Corp. manager whose fraud suit contributed to the mortgage industry’s $25 billion settlement with federal and state regulators received about $14.5 million for his efforts, his lawyers said. Kyle Lagow, an appraisal manager for Countrywide from 2004 to 2008, claimed that Countrywide inflated the value of homes to support bigger loans, according to a statement today from Seattle-based law firm Hagens Berman. Charlotte, North Carolina- based Bank of America bought Countrywide in 2008 to save it from collapse as defaults on home loans soared. Lagow’s information helped prompt a $1 billion settlement of Federal Housing Administration claims announced by Bank of America in February, according to the law firm. The sum was included in the nationwide settlement reached that month. [Bloomberg]

Are You A Financial Services Company Stuffed To Gills With Toxic Assets And/Or On The Verge Of Bankruptcy? Don't Hold Your Breath For Brian Moynihan's Call

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]