Another $20B For Bank Of America


After a marathon negotiating session, the Bush administration agreed early Friday to give Bank of America an additional $20 billion worth of fresh capital to help it stomach the losses at Merrill Lynch, which the company acquired Jan. 1. The funds are in addition to $25 billion in TARP rescue funds Bank of America has already received. The new infusion means Bank of America has now taken $45 billion of government aid, the same amount as Citigroup Inc. In connection with the package, Bank of America slashed its quarterly dividend to a mere penny from 32 cents, agreed to further limit executive pay and and work more intensively to modify the mortgages of distressed homeowners. The government’s agreement with Bank of America mentions “enhanced executive compensation restrictions” but doesn’t elaborate. However, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who heads the House Financial Services Committee, last week issued an outline of his proposal to attach strings to spending the rest of the bailout money. It would slap strict limits on executive compensation _ both for companies receiving new federal money and those that already have _ including a ban on any bonuses for the 25 highest paid executives.

And Citigroup, which also got $45B, is breaking apart.

Citigroup said Friday it is splitting into two businesses as it reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $8.29 billion – its fifth straight quarterly loss. In Citigroup’s reorganization, one business, Citicorp, will focus on traditional banking around the world, while the other, Citi Holdings, will hold the company’s riskier assets. CEO Vikram Pandit’s move will allow Citigroup to sell or spin off the Citi Holdings assets to raise cash. It also reveals the company’s growing focus on back-to-basics lending and deposit-gathering, and dismantles the “financial supermarket” created a decade ago.