|CEO Brian T. Moynihan has sold more than 20 assets as the firm seeks to comply with new international capital standards.|
Bank of America sheds Canadian card unit
Bank of America Corp.’s chief executive, Brian T. Moynihan, is unraveling yet another acquisition made by predecessor Kenneth D. Lewis as the firm exits credit card lending outside the United States.
Moynihan agreed to sell the Canadian card unit, with $8.6 billion in loan balances, to Toronto-Dominion Bank and plans to leave the UK and Irish card markets, said the Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America in a statement yesterday.
Moynihan, 51, has sold more than 20 assets or units since taking over for Lewis last year as the firm seeks to comply with new international capital standards and to focus on corporate borrowers, investment banking, and US retail clients. The new CEO has been forced to write down credit card and mortgage units acquired by Lewis, who spent more than $130 billion building the largest US bank by assets.
“Bank of America is shrinking because they need to make sure they’re using their capital in the most profitable ways,’’ said Jefferson Harralson, an analyst at KBW Inc. with a “market-perform’’ recommendation on the bank. “During the Ken Lewis era, you could run the bank with much lower capital; the changes in capital requirements are pushing them to keep the most profitable customers and shed the rest.’’
The sale involves operations included in the $35 billion takeover of MBNA Corp. in 2006. Moynihan’s divestitures include First Republic Bank, acquired in the 2009 Merrill Lynch & Co acquisition, and stakes in asset manager BlackRock Inc. and Brazilian bank Itau Unibanco Holding SA.
TD said it is paying a “modest premium’’ of about $101.6 million for the portfolio, including $7.6 billion in cash and assuming $1.12 billion in liabilities.
Moynihan has had to write down the credit card division by $20.3 billion in reports filed with financial regulators because of increased defaults and US regulation limiting fees. Credit cards in the United States remain a “fundamental core product,’’ Moynihan said yesterday in a statement.
Moynihan has also written off the entire value of Countrywide Financial Corp., the home lender acquired by Lewis in 2008 for about $2.5 billion. Bank of America has scaled back home lending and is selling mortgage-servicing rights acquired in the Countrywide deal.
Bank of America climbed 57 cents, or 7.9 percent, to $7.76 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading at 4:15 p.m. The shares dropped by almost half this year through Friday on concern the bank would have to sell shares as costs from defective Countrywide mortgages drained capital. TD rose 96 cents, or 1.3 percent, to C$76.88 in Toronto.
Exiting the Canadian and European businesses would lower Bank of America’s capital needs by eliminating $27.6 billion of more-risky assets and may help it avoid having to sell new shares, Ed Najarian, head of bank research at International Strategy & Investment Group Inc., said yesterday in a research note.
Bank of America is mulling its options regarding the UK and Ireland businesses it is exiting, said Jerry Dubrowski, a company spokesman.
The TD transaction is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter, the company said in the statement.
The lender is retaining some reserves linked to the Canadian business, Dubrowski said, meaning that the purchase price “reflects the fair value of the business and is in line with other recent transactions.’’
The portfolios in the UK and Ireland have a combined $19 billion in credit card loans and more than 4,000 employees, the company said in the statement. It signed an agreement on Aug. 3 to sell the Spain card business to Apollo Capital Management Inc.
The lender will pursue the “aggressive selling of noncore assets to continue to generate capital, increase our focus, and lower risk,’’ Moynihan said in a conference call last week.
Bank of America has to meet the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision standards designed to build a buffer against losses and prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis. Moynihan has said the bank can avoid a share sale that would dilute investors’ holdings.