Banks aren’t lending to each other, but they are buying each other. An interesting by-product of the deals: capital-hungry institutions are raising billions of dollars of fresh capital in a tumbling market.
Bank of America said yesterday its tier-one capital ratio would be 7.5 percent in the third quarter, down from 8.25 percent in the second quarter, spurring it to launch a $10 billion share offering and cut its dividend. On a conference call, it said it could raise even more to help manage the purchase of Merrill Lynch. Wells Fargo planned to raise $20 billion to fund its bid for Wachovia, while rival suitor Citigroup aimed to raise $10 billion to buy that bank. Those two are taking a three-day break from a legal battle over who gets what.
If Citigroup loses out on Wachovia, Dan Wilchins points out, it will also miss out on a great chance to raise capital. Citi would likely have a much easier time raising capital to fund its growth than to patch holes on its balance sheet. The bank has raised $50 billion of capital in the last seven months, and its management has consistently said that it has raised more than it expected to need, he reports. But that could all change in a recession, as credit cards, investment banking, and retail brokerage businesses lose customers.
Once the dust settles, ruthlessly diluting shareholders may show itself to have been absolutely necessary, and perhaps even unavoidable. But now with the markets in freefall, it’s more than a little scary.
Deals of the day:
* Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings kicked off the sale of electricity generator PowerSeraya, in a deal that could fetch around $2.5 billion. To read more, please double click on
* Icelandic investment firm Exista will sell its near 20 percent stake in Finnish insurer Sampo to reduce liabilities but will keep its other assets, the group said in a statement.
* Commonwealth Bank of Australia said it has started exclusive talks with British bank HBOS about a potential takeover of BankWest, HBOS’ Australian operation, estimated to be worth A$2 billion ($1.45 billion).
* British military consumables maker Chemring Group is buying a U.S. mine-detection systems company for an initial $30 million, to boost its explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) business.