Bank of America has agreed to pay $2.43 billion to settle a lawsuit filed by shareholders, and related to the bank’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch during the 2008 financial crisis.
The lawsuit had been filed by shareholders of Bank of America, who alleged that the company and some of its executives made false and misleading statements about the financial health of both Bank of America and Merrill Lynch at the time of the acquisition.
The shareholders who participated in the class-action lawsuit were those who had purchased Bank of America stock or held Bank of America stock in the fall of 2008 when the company announced its intention to buy Merrill Lynch. It was a $20 billion deal, and as the Bank Of America-Merrill Lynch deal went through, federal financial regulators struggled to deal with the global effects of the financial crisis.
The Bank of America-Merrill Lynch buyout deal was finalized on the same weekend that the international economy shuddered with the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008. Later that year, Bank Of America investors and California shareholder dispute lawyers woke up to the shocking news that Merrill Lynch would be posting a total loss of $27.6 billion that year.
That disastrous news sent Bank of America stock plummeting, and the company required a major financial buyout. The $20 billion bailout in addition to another $25 billion that Bank of America had received previously prevented the bank from sinking.
The shareholders allege that the bank and Merrill Lynch executives withheld important information about the financial status of both the companies at the time of the buyout. However, Bank Of America continues to deny the allegations made by shareholders, and now says that it only agreed to a settlement to avoid additional costs related to the lawsuit.