Morgan Stanley May Consider Buyback: Report

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Morgan Stanley ( MS) may consider requesting the Federal Reserve to permit it to buy back shares for the first time since 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported .

The investment bank may make the request in January as part of the Fed's annual stress test, according to the report citing people familiar with the firm's thinking. But the company will first use its excess capital towards buying the remaining 35% stake in the wealth-management joint venture with Citigroup. ( C).

Shares of Morgan Stanley trade at a deep discount to their tangible book value, making it attractive for the firm to buy back shares and boost returns to shareholders.

The company already has board approval for $1.6 billion in buybacks, but has not exercised the option. Officials expect the bank to make the request for buyback only if it is confident that the regulator will approve the purchase of the remaining Citi stake.

Under the new stress test rules, banks are allowed to make one downward revision to their capital return request. However, most banks are still likely to be conservative in their request, as the Fed intends to publish both the original and revised request.

Additional requests can be made later in the year.

Shares of Morgan Stanley were up more than 1.3% in premarket trading.

--Written by Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York

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