Bank of America ( BAC) has taken the ax to its business once again by further realigning its investment-banking and markets businesses. The Charlotte-based lender is eliminating 650 positions in its global Investment Banking and Global Markets businesses and plans to sell its equity prime brokerage business. BofA is also reducing its involvement in certain structured products, such as collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs, and "resizing" the international platform to emphasize its debt, cash management and trading business in interest rates and foreign exchange, the company said. The changes are in addition to an ongoing initiative announced in October, after the company posted disastrous third-quarter results in its global corporate and investment-banking business due to the ongoing credit crunch. BofA said at the time that it would cut 3,000 jobs companywide. The 650 investment banking jobs cut Tuesday, about 12% of its investment-banking ranks, are in addition to that total. BofA cut 500 investment-banking jobs late last year as part of the initiative. The news also comes less than a week after the consumer banking giant said it would acquire struggling mortgage lender Countrywide Financial ( CFC) for $4 billion. The realignment "will result in shifts in investment away from activities that do not directly contribute to the success of the company's integrated model and to avoid risks that are not commensurate with the rewards available," BofA said.
That said, the company reaffirmed its commitment on Tuesday to the business of servicing corporate, commercial and sponsor clients. "These changes will sharpen the focus of our capabilities and activities on the needs of our clients," said Chairman and CEO Ken Lewis. "We should emerge from this realignment with profitable and more competitive global markets and global banking businesses. We're committed to that, and it is important to our success." Shares fell $1.24 or 3.2% to $37.99. BofA's decision to curtail certain markets businesses comes as banks large and small have been hit hard by the ongoing credit crunch. Earlier in the day, Citigroup ( C) posted a fourth-quarter net loss of nearly $10 billion due to $18.1 billion in writedowns. The writedowns have forced the New York banking titan to slash its dividend and seek additional capital in order to steady its business. BofA is expected to report earnings on Tuesday, Jan. 22. Analysts expect the company to post earnings of just 18 cents a share, down 85% from earnings in the year-earlier quarter. A BofA spokesman declined to discuss any transaction details or potential buyers for the equity prime brokerage business.