In an article today, the WSJ lays out the inner workings of the Bank of America (BAC) deal with Merrill Lynch (MER), which claims BofA CEO Ken Lewis was forced into the deal by the Fed. Lewis agreed to buy Merrill in September, but discovered over the next few months that Merrill losses were much greater than originally thought and tried to back out of the deal. Not so fast says the government.
A Fed official warned that if Lewis backed out and needed government money down the road, he may be out of luck and that regulators would consider ousting executives and directors. The end result was a deal with the government that would provide BofA with $20 billion in aide and protection against losses on $118 billion in trouble assets. Asked by an analyst about his decision to go ahead with the Merrill deal, Mr. Lewis responded: “We did think we were doing the right thing for the country.”
While traders continue to hammer BofA stock believing it will soon be nationalized, Ken Lewis and other insiders are busy buying up shares. Lewis bought up another 200K shares on Feb 4th but keep in mind he also bought about a couple million worth of shares back when the share price was $23. One thing is certain. The chances of making money on BofA down here are much better than a lotto ticket.