Fitch: NY Approval of Mortgage Settlement Positive for BAC

Fri Jan 31, 2014 4:03pm EST

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(The following statement was released by the rating agency) CHICAGO, January 31 (Fitch) Today’s decision by a New York State Supreme Court judge to approve the terms of a settlement between private-label mortgage securitization investors and Bank of America (BAC) is positive for the bank’s credit profile, if not successfully appealed with respect to loan modifications, according to Fitch Ratings. The settlement removes a substantial source of uncertainty from BAC’s remaining contingent liabilities, though future appeals are possible. BAC is fully reserved for the $8.5 billion settlement (in addition to $100 million for legal and administration fees). Following this settlement, BAC faces remaining litigation exposure in New York and California related to Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) private-label securitization (PLS) claims. However, BAC is now better positioned to fund future litigation losses. In a prior special report, we estimated that the remaining FHFA litigation losses for BAC could total between $5 billion and $8 billion. With today’s settlement complete, we think the FHFA losses can be managed by the bank within the context of current expectations for earnings and capital ratios. The judge ruled that the 2011 settlement between investors, BAC and trustee Bank of New York Mellon (BNY) should be upheld, noting that BNY acted in good faith. We believe that the approval of the settlement likely reflected, in part, the fact that litigants had dropped objections given improving PLS performance over the past two years as the housing market has begun to recover. While the approval of the settlement is a positive for BAC, there is no impact on current ratings. Longer-term ratings momentum will be predicated on meaningful and sustained earnings improvement, capital ratios that compare more favorably with large bank peers and a continued wind-down of legacy litigation liabilities and impaired assets. Contact: Justin Fuller, CFA Director Financial Institutions +1-312-368-2057 Bill Warlick Senior Director Fitch Wire +1-312-368-3141 Fitch Ratings, Inc. 70 W. Madison Chicago, IL 60602 Media Relations: Brian Bertsch, New York, Tel: +1 212-908-0549, Email: brian.bertsch@fitchratings.com. The above article originally appeared as a post on the Fitch Wire credit market commentary page. The original article can be accessed at www.fitchratings.com. All opinions expressed are those of Fitch Ratings. ALL FITCH CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: here. IN ADDITION, RATING DEFINITIONS AND THE TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON THE AGENCY'S PUBLIC WEBSITE 'WWW.FITCHRATINGS.COM'. PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA AND METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. FITCH'S CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, AFFILIATE FIREWALL, COMPLIANCE AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THE 'CODE OF CONDUCT' SECTION OF THIS SITE. FITCH MAY HAVE PROVIDED ANOTHER PERMISSIBLE SERVICE TO THE RATED ENTITY OR ITS RELATED THIRD PARTIES. DETAILS OF THIS SERVICE FOR RATINGS FOR WHICH THE LEAD ANALYST IS BASED IN AN EU-REGISTERED ENTITY CAN BE FOUND ON THE ENTITY SUMMARY PAGE FOR THIS ISSUER ON THE FITCH WEBSITE.

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