BofA Bailout Exit Miles Off

Bank of America is prepared to repay all $45 billion in bailout funds today, but will probably have to do so in small portions over time, says CEO Ken Lewis.
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Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

is prepared to repay all $45 billion in bailout funds today, CEO Ken Lewis said Friday, but will probably have to do so in small portions over time.

"We've got the capital ratios and liquidity," Lewis said during a conference call to discuss

quarterly results.

BofA is in discussions with regulators for a time frame and payment plan, which will depend largely on economic recovery. While Lewis described capital levels as "just well north of any minimum, well-capitalized numbers," it seems that regulators need the company to prove that its core earnings remain strong over time.

If Bank of America does need to boost capital levels further to repay the money, CFO Joe Price added that "the preferred approach" would be internal generation, rather than raising funds through preferred or common equity offerings.

While competitors like

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

,

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report

and

Morgan Stanley

(MS) - Get Report

have repaid government borrowings and are in the process of extinguishing warrants, BofA and

Wells Fargo

(WFC) - Get Report

did not meet requirements to do so yet.