Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bank of America invests in Countrywide

It was announced Wednesday that BofA has invested $2bln in Countrywide preferred stock, which can be converted into common stock at $18 per share. Shares of Countrywide traded at above $25 in after-hour trading, an increase of some 20% on the news. Rumors of a possible acquisition/merger with BofA have been circulating for a whil, but until now none had come to materialize. According to the lender’s CEO Angelo Mozilo, “Bank of America’s investment in Countrywide represents a vote of confidence and strengthens our balance sheet, enabling us to position Countrywide for future growth and success”. For some reason, this sounds like a sigh of relief to me.

Kenneth D. Lewis, BofA’s Chairman and CEO, said that “the stock market has been underestimating the value of Countrywide’s operations and assets” – an interesting thought amid all the turmoil, revaluations and downgrades anything mortgage-related has seen. He also added that “The investment … recognizes the importance of the company in providing home financing across the country”, so would I be right to assume that BofA is making a very risky investment just to bail out Countrywide? I’m probably wrong of course …

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