Bank of America Corp. and Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. shareholders approved B of A's acquisition of the New York investment bank in separate meetings Friday; the companies gave scant details of the voting, however.
In short press releases, neither company divulged the preliminary tallies from their respective meetings, though a source close to Merrill said a "very large" percentage of shares was voted to approve the $21 billion sale.
Representatives of Merrill and of the $1.83 trillion-asset Charlotte banking company would not comment.
Bank of America said in its press release that it still expects to close the purchase this month. The deal also won approval Friday from the European Commission. The Federal Reserve approved the deal last month.
Analysts had mostly anticipated that investors would back the acquisition, but said Bank of America faces mounting difficulties with the integration due to worsening credit, frozen capital markets, and an economy that is a year into recession.
Jeffery Harte, an analyst at Sandler O'Neill & Partners LP, said continued market deterioration validates concerns that the companies are fighting problems that will not go away overnight.
"What you are hopefully getting in return is a strong combined balance sheet that now has more implicit government support," he said in an interview.
"That doesn't change the amount of marks they each have to take or the losses that Bank of America will have in its consumer portfolios," he added.
"This deal has always had less wiggle room than many others because there was more top-line risk and fewer expense saves," said Betsy Graseck, an analyst at Morgan Stanley. "There are also several different buckets of risk at work here."
The deal, which was valued at $50 billion when it was announced Sept. 15, is now worth roughly $21 billion, thanks to B of A's declining stock price. B of A's shares have shed about 54.8% of their value since mid-September.