19 Jul 2008

Merrill Lynch selling up after $US4.9b loss

7:57 am on 19 July 2008

US Investment bank Merrill Lynch is selling nearly $US8 billion of assets in a bid to raise fresh capital and has posted a $US4.9 billion second-quarter loss because of write-downs.

Merrill said it sold its 20% stake in Bloomberg for $US4.425 billion. The bank is also in discussions to sell a controlling interest in Financial Data Services for about $US3.5 billion. The company provides administrative services to Merrill's mutual funds and retail banking.

The third-largest US investment bank recorded $US9.4 billion of write-downs of repackaged debt, including collateralised debt obligations, as well as exposure to bond insurers.

Merrill has suffered about $US40 billion of write-downs since the credit crisis began a year ago, making it among the American banks hit hardest by the credit crunch.

Merrill said its quarterly loss applicable to common stockholders equaled $US4.97 a share compared with a profit of $US2.07 billion, or $US2.24 per share, a year earlier.

Net revenue fell to 7.5 billion, while the bank's liquidity pool increased to about $US92 billion.