BofA Settles Soured Mortgages for $8.5 Billion
Bank of America Corp. (BAC), the biggest U.S. bank, agreed to pay $8.5 billion to resolve claims made by bondholders including BlackRock Inc. (BLK) over soured mortgages. The lender rose as much as 4 percent in New York trading.
The settlement will contribute to a second-quarter loss of $8.6 billion to $9.1 billion, or 88 cents to 93 cents a share, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank said today in a statement. Bank of America also said it will add $5.5 billion to a liability reserve for future loan-repurchase demands in the quarter and post $6.4 billion in other charges including legal costs and a writedown of mortgage-unit goodwill.
“This is progress in that it puts some parameters around what the total loss will be,” said Marty Mosby, a Nashville, Tennessee-based analyst at Guggenheim Securities LLC, which manages more than $100 billion, including Bank of America shares. “It’s not a great thing to pay this much, but it’s not the worst-case scenario either.”
Investors, which also include Pacific Investment Management Co. and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, demanded in October that Bank of America repurchase home loans that had been packaged into bonds by Countrywide Financial Corp., which it acquired in 2008. The settlement covers 530 mortgage trusts with an original loan balance of $424 billion, or about half of the bank’s so-called private-label deals, the bank said today.
The actions reduce uncertainty about future costs from defective Countrywide mortgages, Bank of America Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan said on a conference call. The firm won’t need to sell shares to pay for the settlement, and it may take two quarters to regain capital depleted by the deal, Moynihan said.
The company’s board met yesterday to discuss the settlement, which still needs court approval. The agreement follows a $3 billion deal announced in January to resolve similar claims from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the U.S.-owned mortgage firms. Bank of America said in April that it agreed to pay an estimated $1.6 billion to resolve claims with bond insurer Assured Guaranty Ltd. (AGO)
“This is another important step we are taking in the interest of our shareholders to minimize the impact of future economic uncertainty,” Moynihan said in the statement. The company will continue to “act aggressively, and in the best interest of our shareholders, to clean up the mortgage issues largely stemming from our purchase of Countrywide.”
Bank of America declined 19 percent this year through yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange on concern mortgage- related costs, new international capital rules and a slowing U.S. economy will swamp earnings. The shares rose 30 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $11.12 at 10:29 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.
The settlement, which also includes changes in how Bank of America services loans, won support from 22 investors, including the BlackRock group represented by Gibbs & Bruns LLP, the law firm said today in a statement. The Bank of New York Mellon Corp., as the trustee for the mortgage-bond deals, will direct the flow of settlement payments.
Costs tied to faulty mortgages have been a moving target for Moynihan, 51. The firm previously said expenses tied to demands from bond buyers other than Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could range from zero to as much as $7 billion to $10 billion. In a May regulatory filing, the lender said that estimate may be $11 billion to $14 billion if it made incorrect assumptions regarding the difficulties investors would face making claims.
The firm said today that it expected as much as $5 billion in additional costs on the private bond deals not included in the settlement and reserve additions.
Bank of America said second-quarter results will also include a $2.5 billion gain, including a benefit from the sale of its Balboa insurance unit and a stake in BlackRock. Sales and trading results for the quarter improved from a year earlier and were below the first three months of this year.
Countrywide ranked as the top issuer of the securities in 2005, 2006 and 2007, when the worst-performing debt was created, according to Inside MBS & ABS, a newsletter. The lender created $405 billion of the $3.04 trillion of bonds sold in those years. Bank of America issued $76.9 billion and Merrill Lynch, which was purchased by the bank at the start of 2009, and First Franklin, which Merrill Lynch bought at the beginning of 2007, issued a combined $116 billion.
Bond insurer MBIA Inc., in suing Bank of America and Countrywide over $21 billion of mortgage securities in New York State Supreme Court, said its reviews had found that 91 percent of defaulted or delinquent loans had “material discrepancies from underwriting guidelines,” such as borrower incomes, credit scores or debt-to-income ratios.
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