Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Swiss bank in talks to buy BofA unit

Welcome to the morning roundup. Here's a look at today's banking and finance headlines.

BofA close to deal. Swiss private bank Julius Baer is in talks with Bank of America Corp. about buying Merrill Lynch's non-U.S. wealth management unit, Reuters reports. A spokesman declined to say whether Baer was interested in buying the whole business, valued at up to $2 billion, or parts of it. Charlotte-based BofA put its non-U.S. wealth management unit up for sale this spring as part of an ongoing plan to shed non-core assets.

London whale. JPMorgan Chase & Co. trader Bruno Michel Iksil sometimes resisted sharing details of his positions with superiors, current and former colleagues told the Wall Street Journal. Those workers told the Journal how Iksil, known as the "London whale" for big trades that ultimately resulted in at least $2 billion of losses, gained credibility and power in the years leading up to the blunders.

European crisis. Markets had a tepid response Monday to the "supposedly momentous" election in Greece, showing investors are looking for a bigger fix to Europe's troubles, the New York Times reports. That raises questions about what exactly it will take to ease investors' concerns about the European debt crisis. Meanwhile, stocks climbed at the open today.

Help from regulators. The Federal Housing Finance Agency plans to help banks avoid being forced to buy back mortgages, citing concerns that lenders are tightening credit standards, Bloomberg reports. The regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will detail flaws that would trigger a putback request and is standardizing the data Fannie and Freddie collect on loans so they have more information when buying mortgages from lenders, Bloomberg writes.


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