The Charlotte, N.C.-based firm fetched more than $10 billion through asset sales last year, but seems to have gotten rid of the larger, non-core franchises that were isolated from other operations. It sold two banking franchises -- Columbia Management and First Republic -- as well as its stake in China Construction Bank.
As part of its agreement to repay $45 billion in TARP funds last December, Bank of America told the Federal Reserve it would pare down its diverse array of businesses further. Ultimately, it must agree to sell $4 billion worth of assets by June, and complete transactions by year-end. Bank of America agreed to raise whatever shortfall there is by issuing more common equity -- a move that would dilute stock -- sodden shareholders even more.
Apart from stock holdings, some Merrill businesses, the U.S. Trust division and a couple of joint ventures, there don't seem to be many stand-alone divisions that could be easily carved out of Bank of America's large, interwoven folds. Of those isolated fragments, it's not clear which, if any, management considers non-strategic.According to the business plan sketched by CEO Brian Moynihan on Wednesday, Bank of America may try to shrink in a more organic fashion. That would mean closing or selling unnecessary branches, offering fewer products and shedding customers and partnerships that aren't the best avenues for profitable growth. "There are no major businesses that would fit in that [divestiture] category, because if you think about how we go to market against those customers and the products and capabilities and the relationship of management forces, we need everything we have," said Moynihan. "We need the [financial advisors]. We need the bank branches. We need the wealth management people in U.S. Trust. We need the commercial bankers. We need investment bankers. We need sales traders and capital markets capabilities." Moynihan added that the firm plans to replace "lazier" assets with more profitable ones -- a comment that doesn't exactly sound like it was pulled from a marketing brochure for potential buyers.
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