Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC), the lender divesting assets to raise capital, is in talks with Swiss wealth manager Julius Baer Group Ltd. to sell its Merrill Lynch wealth management business outside the U.S.
Given the early stage of these discussions, the outcome is entirely open, Zurich-based Baer said Tuesday in a statement. Julius Baer did not disclose the size of the deal, but analysts said the transaction could be valued up to $2.5 billion, according to the New York Times.
However, one thing is for certain: Even after relinquishing the crown as the nation's largest bank by total assets to JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) in the third quarter, Bank of American is still determined to become leaner and meaner.
Bank of America has trailed rivals in recovering from the financial crisis, largely because of huge losses and lawsuits tied to its 2008 acquisition of subprime mortgage lender Countrywide Financial.
With Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan at the helm, the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank has been selling off non-core business units to improve its capital position under international Basel III regulations and improve top-line growth.
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Buoyed by the asset divestitures and better trading results, Bank of America swung to a profit in the fourth quarter of 2011 and beat analysts' estimate in the first quarter of this year.
Following is a list of assets Bank of America has gotten rid of since the start of 2011:
February 3, 2011: Bank of America sold the former Countrywide Financial Corp. property and casualty insurer Balboa Insurance Co. to QBE Insurance Group Limited (ASX: QBE) for $700 million. Countrywide acquired Balboa in 1999 and held it as a mortgage insurer until Bank of America bought Countrywide in June 2008.
April 2011: Bank of America sold its $200 million United Kingdom portfolio of small business card loans to Barclays PLC (NYSE: BCS). Terms were not disclosed.
May 19, 2011: Bank of America agreed to sell its remaining 7 percent stake in BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE: BLK) for $2.55 billion. The alliance was formed in 2006, when Merrill Lynch reached sold its asset management division to BlackRock in exchange for a 49.8 percent stake.
June 6, 2011: Bank of America sold a $1 billion portfolio of credit-card loans to Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE: RF).
July 7, 2011: Bank of America sold Balboa Insurance's life insurance division to St. Paul, Minnesota-based Securian Financial Group Inc. Terms were not disclosed.
August 3, 2011: Bank of America sold its consumer-credit-card portfolio and operations in Spain to private-equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC (NYSE: APO). Terms were not disclosed.
August 5, 2011: Bank of America sold servicing rights on a pool of 400,000 mortgages to government-controlled housing giant Fannie Mae. The price tag on the loans that had unpaid principal balance of $73 billion was more than $500 million, the Wall Street Journal reported.
August 15, 2011: Bank of America took steps to exit the international credit card business by selling off its $8.6 billion Canadian card venture to the TD Bank Group for an undisclosed amount and announced a potential sale of card businesses in the U.K. and Ireland.
August 29, 2011: Bank of America sold about half of its stake in China Construction Bank Corporation (HKG: 0939) for $8.3 billion. This deal came just days after Warren E. Buffett agreed to invest $5 billion in the bank.
September 15, 2011: Bank of America sold 80.8 million shares of hospital operator HCA Holdings Inc (NYSE: HCA) back to the health-care company for $1.5 billion.
September 22, 2011: Bank of America sold almost $1 billion of performing and delinquent commercial real estate loans to a group of investors including Invesco Ltd. (NYSE: IVZ), Square Mile Capital Management LLC and a fund managed by Canyon Capital Realty Advisors LLC.
September 22, 2011: Bloomberg reported that Bank of America was in exclusive talks to sell its stake in NPC International Inc., which operates the biggest U.S. Pizza Hut franchise, for more than $80 million.
November 14, 2011: Bank of America sold most of its remaining holdings (10.4 billion common shares) in China Construction Bank to a group of unidentified investors for $1.8 billion. This has left Bank of America with about 1 percent of China Construction Bank's common stock.
December, 26, 2011: Reuters reported that Bank of America was considering selling its Indian back-office processing operation.
March 21, 2012: Bank of America sold its Irish consumer credit-card portfolio to the Apollo European Principal Finance Fund I, a fund affiliated with Apollo Global Management LLC. The deal includes more than 200,000 customer accounts with a balance of over €650 million ($825 million) of receivables. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
June 19, 2012: Bank of America is in talks with Julius Baer Group Ltd. About selling Merrill Lynch's non-U.S. wealth management unit, valued at up to $2 billion.
Shares of Bank of America Corp (NYSE: BAC), which have gained 46 percent this year, closed up 4.51 percent to $8.11 a share in Tuesday's trading.