Bank of America is one of the world's largest financial
institutions, serving customers in more than 150 countries. The
company has business relationships with 99 percent of the
U.S. Fortune 500 and 95 percent of
the Global Fortune
500. In Europe, BofA operates in 32 cities in 23 countries
and employs 14,000 people.
In September 2008, Bank of America made just about every
headline in the world when it announced that it would be buying New
York-based investment bank Merrill Lynch. On 1 January 2009, the
bank acquired Merrill Lynch in exchange for common and preferred
stock with a value of US$29.1 billion. When the deal closed in
early 2009, it made BofA the biggest U.S. bank in terms of assets,
with more than US$2 trillion. It also made the combined firm the
largest brokerage firm in the world, with about 16,000 financial
advisors; one of the leading investment banking advisory firms,
with significant operations in M&A advisory as well as debt and
equity underwriting; and one of the world's top wealth management
firms, with Merrill Lynch's nearly 50 percent stake in U.S.-based
investment management company BlackRock.
Headquartered in lower Manhattan, Merrill Lynch had two main
business segments when it came into the BofA fold: global markets
and investment banking (with subunits of sales and trading; fixed
income, currencies, and commodities; equities; and investment
banking), and global wealth management (which included global
investment management and global private clients).
Worldwide, BofA employs approximately 233,000 people. The
bank is led by BofA Chairman and CEO Brian Moynihan, who took the
company reins from former CEO Kenneth Lewis in late 2009. In early
2011, Moynihan announced that, unlike the strategy enacted under
previous management, BofA would not be making any acquisitions in
the near future. "We aren't buying a European bank," he said. "I
couldn't think of anything less interesting."