BofA sells $19.29B in securities to repay bailout

AP News
Posted: Dec 03, 2009 8:20 PM

Bank of America Corp. said Thursday it raised $19.29 billion in a complex share sale to help pay back $45 billion in government bailout funds.

Repaying the money could help the ailing bank attract a new chief executive to replace Ken Lewis by removing the bailout stigma and lifting government pay restrictions. Lewis is set to retire Dec. 31, and the company has not yet named a replacement.

Still, the share sale could dilute the value of the bank's stock by putting 15 percent more shares on the market, hurting the shareholders who will vote on whether to approve the transaction.

The bank sold $19.29 billion in common equivalent securities at $15 each _ a 4.8 percent discount to Thursday's closing price for Bank of America's stock. The securities can be converted to 1.29 billion common shares, as long as current shareholders approve the deal. The bank had 8.65 billion shares outstanding as of mid-October.

If shareholders do not approve the transaction, Bank of America has a contingency plan that could let it issue another 200 million shares of common stock without getting approval from shareholders.

The bank said it expects to hold a special shareholder vote within 105 days.

Bank of America, based in Charlotte, N.C., plans to pay back the bailout money with cash on hand and money raised through the share sale. The company also said it plans to raise an additional $4 billion from the sale of certain business units in the coming months.

The Treasury Department said that the $45 billion repayment will release the bank from pay restrictions even though Treasury still holds Bank of America warrants.

And the bank still faces investigations from federal and state regulators into whether it misled shareholders about its deal to buy Merrill Lynch and the billions of dollars in bonuses paid shortly before the acquisition closed Jan. 1. At the time, Bank of America was also seeking the additional $20 billion in bailout money.

The bank announced details of the securities sale Thursday after the close of trading on Wall Street, where its stock ended up 11 cents to $15.76. In after-hours dealings, its shares slipped 30 cents, or 2 percent, to $15.50.