Bank of America raises $13.47 billion in share sale

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bank of America Corp raised $13.47 billion through a share sale, marking a major step toward meeting the U.S. government’s requirements for capital-raising following the recent “stress testing” of the bank.

A Bank of America branch is pictured in New York May 7, 2009. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Including proceeds from the sale of part of its stake in China Construction Bank Corp for $7.3 billion, the bank is now more than half-way toward plugging a $33.9 billion capital shortfall identified by the government.

The bank has issued 1.25 billion shares at an average price of $10.77 each since last Friday, it said in a statement late on Tuesday. Earlier in the day, a source familiar with the transaction said the bank had sold 800 million shares at $10 each on Tuesday alone.

The average price of $10.77 is 4.3 percent below Tuesday’s closing price of $11.25. Bank of America shares rose two cents in after-hours trade to $11.27.

The offering by Bank of America comes on the heels of smaller share issuances by other banks ordered to raise capital. This includes offerings of $8.6 billion by Wells Fargo & Co and $4 billion by Morgan Stanley.

As part of Bank of America’s stock sale, which brought in gross proceeds of about $13.47 billion, the bank sold 800 million shares at $10 each on Tuesday alone, a person familiar with the transaction earlier told Reuters.

The person was not authorized to speak because terms of the sale are not public.

“We’re pleased to have this portion of our capital plan completed,” Chief Financial Officer Joe Price said in a statement. “This strengthens and diversifies our capital structure.”

Regulators told Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis the bank needed to bolster its finances following a government “stress test” of its ability to handle a deep recession.

Ten of the 19 large U.S. banks that underwent such tests were told this month to raise capital, with Bank of America’s $33.9 billion shortfall being by far the largest.

Several banks found to have no capital needs sold stock this month to position themselves to repay taxpayer money taken from the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Bank of America has taken $45 billion of TARP money, including $20 billion in a bailout to help it absorb Merrill Lynch & Co, which it bought on January 1.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank has said it hopes to repay its TARP money within the next couple of years, and in any event before Lewis retires. He has suggested he would like to retire by the time he turns 65, which would be in 2012.

The bank has said it plans to raise roughly $17 billion more from asset sales and other means. Last week, it sold part of its stake in China Construction Bank Corp for $7.3 billion.

Reporting by Elinor Comlay, Jonathan Stempel, Deepa Seetharaman and Jui Chakravorty; Editing by Tim Dobbyn and Carol Bishopric