September 9, 2011
Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) is a prime example of a struggling American bank taking desperate measures to keep itself afloat. After deciding to sell off its credit card and real estate businesses recently, the beleaguered bank has now decided to reshuffle its top guard. It has shaken up its management’s ranks by announcing the departure of two senior executives.
The divestment continues
B of A has been desperately selling its noncore assets to meet upcoming capital requirements and strengthen its capital ratios. Besides that, it is being plagued by huge legal liabilities. It is now in talks with The Blackstone Group (NYSE: BX ) to sell the real estate investments held by its Merrill Lynch unit. The sale, which is still in the works, is part of its efforts to realign its balance sheet and become leaner and meaner. The bank has gone for quite a few spinoffs in the recent past to achieve this goal.
Since credit card portfolios are deemed risky and require more capital to be put up, B of A is trying to slim down its card business. While it’s selling its MBNA Canada credit card arm to Toronto-Dominion Bank (NYSE: TD ) , it is also exiting its international card business. After selling its Spanish card unit to Apollo (Nasdaq: APOL ) and another unit in the U.K. to Barclays (NYSE: BCS ) , it has recently announced its intention to put up its other card units in Ireland and the U.K. Last year, B of A also sold off First Republic Bank (NYSE: FRC ) and offloaded $43.6 million of its shares in BlackRock (NYSE: BLK ) .
The Foolish bottom line
B of A is likely to continue shedding noncore assets till it strengthens its balance sheet and frees up enough cash. The selling of its assets might help the bank improve its capital ratios and meet higher incoming capital requirements. But it cannot continue selling off its parts forever without cutting too close to the bone.