BankAm May Buy Back Up To $9 Billion Stock

New York, Jan 29: | Updated: Jan 30 2004, 05:30am hrs
Bank of America Corp, which agreed to pay $47 billion for Fleet Boston Financial Corp, on Wednesday said its board authorised management to spend up to $9 billion within 18 months to buy back up to 90 million additional common shares.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank said the board last approved a buyback in January 2003, when it authorised the repurchase of up to 130 million shares. It said it may still buy back 24 million shares under that authorisation. Bank of America had 1.44 billion shares outstanding as of Dec 31.

Chairman and chief executive Kenneth Lewis said Bank of Americas record $10.8 billion profit in 2003, or $7.13 per share, allowed the bank last year to return $10 billion of capital to shareholders through dividends and share buybacks.

On Tuesday, Mr Lewis told analysts he was confident the bank would meet last weeks Wall Street consensus forecast of $7.12 per share profit in 2004. That forecast has since increased to $7.15 per share, according to Thomson First Call.

Bank of America, now the No 3 US bank by assets, expects its purchase of No 7 rival Fleet, announced on Oct 27, 2003, to close in early April. The purchase would make Bank of America the No 2 bank, pending JP Morgan Chase & Cos completion of its purchase of Bank One Corp.

Bank of America shares rose 70 cents to $82.70 in Wednesday afternoon trading.