Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 29, 2012

Bank of America to pay $2.43 billion

Settlement part of lawsuit from Merrill Lynch acquisition


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---- — WASHINGTON (AP) — Bank of America says it has agreed to pay $2.43 billion to settle a class-action lawsuit related to its acquisition of Merrill Lynch at the height of the financial crisis.

In the lawsuit, shareholders alleged that Bank of America and some of its officers made false or misleading statements about both companies' financial health.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of investors who bought or held Bank of America stock when the company announced its plans to buy Merrill Lynch in a $20 billion deal as the banking industry and federal regulators struggled to contain fallout from the financial crisis in the fall of 2008.

Bank of America's deal to buy Merrill Lynch was forged on the same September 2008 weekend that Lehman Brothers collapsed. The transaction came into question later after Bank of America disclosed that Merrill would post $27.6 billion in losses that year. That added significantly to Bank of America's financial woes, and the company subsequently asked for a $20 billion bailout from the government to help offset those losses, on top of the $25 billion it had already received. It has since repaid all $45 billion.

In announcing the settlement proposal on Friday, Bank of America denied the shareholders' allegations and said that it agreed to the settlement to get rid of the uncertainties, burden and costs related to the lawsuit.

"As we work to put these long-standing issues behind us, our primary focus is on the future and serving our customers and clients," Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said in a statement.

The investors who filed the suit said the amount of the settlement is the largest ever resolving such a claim.