Eton Park, Arrowstreet Buy Bank of America Ahead of Rally

Eton Park Capital Management LP and Arrowstreet Capital LP bought Bank of America Corp. shares in the fourth quarter ahead of a rally that sent the stock up 44 percent.

Eton Park, the hedge fund run by Eric Mindich, purchased 20 million shares of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender in the period valued at $111 million as of Dec. 31, according to a filing yesterday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Boston-based Arrowstreet purchased 14.4 million shares valued at $79.8 million.

Billionaire John Paulson’s $24 billion hedge fund Paulson & Co. exited a Bank of America position in the quarter, selling 64.3 million shares worth $394 million. Paulson’s Advantage Plus Fund had a 51 percent loss in 2011 in what he called an “aberrational year” on investments including Bank of America and Citigroup Inc. (C)

Bank of America, the second-biggest U.S. lender by assets, is rebounding from last year’s 58 percent decline, the worst performance in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The firm, run by Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan, 52, closed at $7.98 yesterday in New York trading.

Bank of America was the worst performer in the 24-company KBW Bank Index during the fourth quarter, dropping 9.2 percent, while Citigroup was the fourth-worst, gaining 2.7 percent. The index advanced 11 percent.

Paulson also sold his entire stake in Citigroup before the New York-based lender gained 22 percent this year through yesterday. Paulson & Co. sold 25.1 million shares of Citigroup valued at $643 million as of Sept. 30, according to a filing.

Eton Park

Mindich, a former partner at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., started New York-based Eton Park with $3 billion in 2004 with former principal-strategies department co-head Erland Karlsson.

Bruce Berkowitz, whose Fairholme Capital Management LLC owned 104.3 million shares of Bank of America at the end of December, also sold Citigroup shares. Fairholme sold 22.8 million shares of the third-largest U.S. lender, leaving it with 2.1 million shares, according to filings.

Fairholme slashed its stake in Jefferies Group Inc. (JEF) by 63 percent, selling 2.17 million shares, filings show. The firm now holds 1.28 million shares of the New York-based investment bank.

Europe Crisis

Jefferies sought to ease concern that its European holdings would lead to losses following the Oct. 31 bankruptcy of MF Global Holdings Ltd., spurred by a $6.3 billion bet on the region’s sovereign debt. Amid what Chief Executive Officer Richard Handler called a “barrage of misinformation” and a 14 percent share slide in November, Jefferies cut its European sovereign holdings by three-quarters that month.

Jefferies shares gained 11 percent this year through yesterday, outpacing the Standard & Poor’s Midcap Financials (S4FINL) Index, which rose 7.4 percent in the same period.

Capital World Investors, a Los Angeles-based investment- management company, almost doubled its stake in Jefferies, acquiring 11.1 million shares and bringing its total holdings to 24.1 million as of Dec. 30, filings show. Frontier Capital Management Co. boosted its stake by 85 percent to 4.89 million shares.

Armel Leslie, a spokesman for Paulson, and Jonathan Gasthalter of Eton Park declined to comment. Michael Stanton, a spokesman for Arrowstreet, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dakin Campbell in San Francisco at dcampbell27@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Scheer at dscheer@bloomberg.net

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