Bank of America Corp. is within striking distance of raising the $33.9 billion in common equity the government's stress test said it needs.
The Charlotte banking company said Wednesday that it has signed plans to add $26 billion of common equity, or 76% of the $33.9 billion in common capital that banking regulators told it to raise.
The company's announcement also included provisions for future capital raising that probably would fulfill the mandate. This month the government told 10 of the nation's largest banking companies to raise their levels of common equity, the primary cushion against losses and a source of assurance for large depositors.
Bank of America said it has agreed to convert $5.9 billion of nongovernment-held preferred stock into about 436 million common shares. Unlike a similar deal announced by Citigroup Inc. in March, Bank of America's conversion of preferred shares into common shares would not be an open offer to existing shareholders. Rather, the North Carolina company struck its deal with unnamed institutional shareholders before the announcement.
An analysis by Dow Jones Newswires said the preferred holders who participate will, in aggregate, get about 82 cents of Bank of America shares for every dollar held in preferred shares. The publicly traded preferred shares to be converted in the deal now trade at 40 to 70 cents on the dollar.
Actual conversion rates could vary, depending on the specific shares in question.
The preferred-stock conversion would bring the banking company's capital-raising effort to $26 billion. This total also includes $7.3 billion from selling a stake it holds in China Construction Bank Corp. The company also said it will consider selling some of its businesses, including First Republic Bank and Columbia Management Group.
Chief financial officer Joe Price, who said Bank of America is pleased with its capital-raising results to date, added that most of the proceeds will go to "reduce reliance on government support." Bank of America has accepted more than $45 billion in public money, in part to aid its purchase of the ailing Merrill Lynch & Co.
Several large financial companies, including Citigroup, have raised common equity by asking preferred shareholders to convert their holdings to common shares.
Company officials have said they would be able to raise the $33.9 billion without taking additional government investment or converting the government's preferred shares into common stock, which would make the United States a substantial shareholder in the nation's largest bank by assets.