Bank of America announced the sale of the majority of their shares in the China Construction Bank for $8.3 billion on Monday, the Financial Times reports. Bank of America will keep a five percent ownership of the Chinese company, and will make a $3.5 billion profit off the sale. It was announced last week that Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway would make a $5 billion investment in Bank of America, a small portion of the $50 billion in capital analysts expect they'll need to raise to meet new standards. "Bank of America's decision to sell that stake is wrong strategically in the long run, but they need money," Josef Schuster, founder of Chicago-based IPO research and investment house IPOX Schuster, told Reuters. The buyer wasn't named in the announcement of the sale, but Reuters is reporting Singapore state fund Temasek was involved.
This is the latest in a series of moves designed to raise capital for the biggest bank. They also recently announced they were cutting 3,500 jobs. Legal trouble is also increasingly a problem for the bank. AIG announced they were suing them over misrepresented mortgage-backed securities.
FT called the Berkshire Hathaway investment, "an attempt to reassure investors that further capital raising was unnecessary." And yet, Bank of America's chief financial officer announced, "This sale of approximately half of our shares of CCB stock is expected to generate about $3.5bn in additional tier one common capital and reduce our risk-weighted assets by $7.3bn under Basel I." The $3.5 billion in additional capital works out to be about seven percent of the $50 billion the bank is expected to need to raise. As for their strategy for the future, and the rest of the capital they need, Dick Bove, analyst for Rochdale Securities, told the Financial Times that this was the 30th sale the bank has announced since the beginning 2009. He adds, "Whatever they can sell, they are selling."