Bank of America ( BAC) expects to resolve a dispute with regulators over billions of dollars in fees related to the Merrill Lynch acquisition within a month, CFO Joe Price said Friday. "We're not going to negotiate in public," said Price, but "I would fully expect us to reach resolution on this thing within the next 30 days." The dispute became public earlier in the week when Bloomberg reported that BofA was trying to wiggle out of paying $4 billion in fees it agreed to pay the Treasury Department in exchange for implied backing on about $118 billion of Merrill Lynch assets. BofA was contending that because it never signed a document, and never used the funding, it shouldn't have to pay. Regulators, of course, disagreed. During a conference call related to
second-quarter earnings, Price said BofA managers have "clearly been informed there's no supervisory concern with this thing dragging on." The parties are still discussing just how to settle the matter, though. The bad-debt backstops are different from the Troubled Asset Relief Program funds that have been distributed to dozens of banks, including major competitors like JPMorgan Chase ( JPM), Wells Fargo ( WFC), Goldman Sachs ( GS) and Morgan Stanley ( MS). BofA and Citigroup ( C), each of which went back to the government for second helpings of TARP, also were given the added protection on bad debt.