After reaching a $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) over the bank’s role in the 2008 financial crisis, US Attorney General Eric Holder said that he wanted to use that deal as a template for future settlements, but high level meetings like the one he had with Jamie Dimon weren’t necessarily part of the deal. Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) representatives asked for a meeting between CEO Brian Moynihan and Holder last week but haven’t yet gotten a response, a source told Reuters earlier today. The lack of a response is being seen as a sign that Holder would rather see negotiations continue by normal channels, at least for now.
DoJ wants $17 billion from Bank of America
Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) is on the hook for more or less the same activities as JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), particularly securitizing low quality mortgages and then selling the MBS as if they were low risk, but the scale is thought to be larger –partly because Bank of America also has to settle for Merrill Lynch which it acquired in2008 – and the Department of Justice is pushing for a larger settlement. The DoJ’s last offer was $17 billion compared to Bank of America’s $12 billion counteroffer to settle with the DoJ and the states; Bank of America also wants the final settlement to include a larger mix of homeowner relief versus outright fines.
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Bank of America has an interest in avoiding bad publicity
After a difficult spring, Bank of America Corp’s (NYSE:BAC) stock has been rallying for most of the last month, and getting out from under this legal uncertainty will let the bank finally move on. A final settlement was expected to have already been reached by now, and as long as the negotiations drag on the chances of state Attorney Generals moving ahead with lawsuits only grows. Even if the judgments from such suits wouldn’t be much higher than the settlement the DoJ is asking for, the financial sector can hardly stand such high profile bad publicity.
Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) was able to settle with the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) for $9.5 billion earlier this year, in what was seen as a good deal for the bank. About a third of the settlement, $3.2 billion, was spent buying back problematic mortgage bonds from Fannie Mae / Federal National Mortgage Assctn Fnni Me (OTCBB:FNMA) and Freddie Mac / Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp (OTCBB:FMCC), but it bought them for 20% of their original value and the GSEs ate the losses. Since the bonds have actually been appreciating recently it’s estimated that Bank of America’s net fine works out to about $4.9 billion.