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TheStreet Open House

Bank of America Shareholder Fund Gets Approval

CHARLOTTE, N.C. ( TheStreet) -- Bank of America (BAC - Get Report) shareholders have a November 12 deadline in order to file for their portion of a $150 million Securities and Exchange Commission settlement regarding the Merrill Lynch merger.

A New York federal judge gave a final approval to the settlement on Wednesday between Bank of America and the SEC allowing $150 million to be paid out to shareholders, according to a release issued late Wednesday by Rust Consulting, the fund's claims administrator.

The Charlotte-based bank funded the $150 million settlement through the so-called Bank of America Fair Fund in February.

A Bank of America spokesman was not immediately available to comment.

The ongoing controversial lawsuit, filed by the SEC last year, claimed that Bank of America failed to disclose to shareholders bonuses paid to Merrill brokers as well as a multibillion billion loss the investment bank was about to take prior to the closing of the deal on Jan. 1, 2009.

Bank of America settled the SEC suit earlier this year, after a contentious, months-long court battle.

Former Chairman and CEO Ken Lewis, who had originally called the merger the "deal of a lifetime" when it was announced in September 2008, ultimately lost his job because of the controversy surrounding the merger. Current CEO Brian Moynihan has been dealing with the mess ever since.

Unfortunately, the fair fund distribution approval does not end Bank of America's woes with Merrill Lynch. The Charlotte, N.C.-based bank is still dealing with a lawsuit filed by the New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in February alleging the bank committed fraud.

Shareholders on record as of Jan. 16, 2009 that own of Bank of America's common stock are eligible for a piece of the settlement. However, former Merrill Lynch shareholders who received Bank of America's stock in connection with the merger will not be eligible.

Investors can obtain further information by clicking on the following link: SEC vs. BAC Fair Fund.

Bank of America shares have been struggling along with the broader financial sector of late. Observers have noted that some hedge funds have recently swapped shares owned of Bank of America for Citigroup as concerns mount over the money-center bank's exposure to the struggling U.S. consumer.

Even though Citi is still in recovery mode, it is positioning itself for growth from its international operations, an area where many say U.S. large banks will rely on in the future for growth, given new financial regulations and the sluggish U.S. economy. Bank of America remains the second highest most actively traded stock on the New York Stock Exchange behind Citigroup (C - Get Report).

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