Bank of America Corp. (BAC) shareholders during a special meeting Friday approved the acquisition of Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. (MER) -- a merger that has been in the works since September. Under the terms of the transaction, Merrill Lynch will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bank of America, and its stockholders will receive 0.8595 of a share of Bank of America common stock for each share of Merrill Lynch common stock held immediately prior to the merger. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of the year, pending the receipt of regulatory approvals. "By approving this transaction, Merrill Lynch stockholders expressed confidence that the combination of our firm and Bank of America will create one of the most powerful financial institutions in the world, with unmatched capabilities and service," said, John Thain, chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch.  "This combination will create great value for our stockholders and clients around the world." The pending merger with Merrill Lynch is not BofA’s only integration this year. The bank also purchased troubled mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp. on July 1, making it the largest mortgage lender and servicer in the country. The addition of Merrill will give it the nation’s largest stock brokerage and a large investment bank to boot. Write to Kelly Curran at Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.