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Investors, creditors stand to benefit from BofA settlement

The $8.5 billion Bank of America (BAC) settlement with investors of residential mortgage-backed securities issued by Countrywide Financial Corp., which the banking giant acquired in 2008, will have positive ramifications for both creditors and investors, according to analysts throughout the industry. Bank of America reached an agreement with Bank of New York Mellon (BK), which served as trustee for 530 RMBS trust with a total balance of $424 billion, to reimburse investors who lost money on failed securities. Barclays Capital analysts said Countrywide deals and other nonagency RMBS will now be more attractive to investors because of the potential return. For the most part, Barclays said, nonagency investors only assume small benefits from rep-and-warranty-related repurchases. “A less negative (or positive) development on any of the (housing) issues could help alleviate price pressures,” Barclays said. “We believe the headline housing data will improve in the coming months, roll rates will continue to improve and this news should help nonagency prices.” Barclays analysts expect cash flow from the settlement will most likely filter into the trusts that represent 226 deals involved in the complaint, thereby benefiting Countrywide cash flows, “as these effectively come in as faster prepays and reduce total losses.” Cash flows on Alt-A securities might hit senior mezzanine and even junior mezzanine loans, Barclays said. Subprime bonds should also benefit. “Deals as part of the settlement could see a direct benefit of 8 to 10 points of additional cash flow,” analysts said. “Even if we assume that the settlement covers all of Countrywide outstanding ($285 billion), the benefit would be at least three to five points of additional cash flow.” The $8.5 billion settlement represents about 10.8% of the $79 billion outstanding on the list of Countrywide deals repurchased by BofA. The original balance of all these securities was $179 billion. BofA is paying about 4.8% of that original balance, Barclays said. Moody’s Investors Service said the settlement, alongside its $5.5 billion reps and warranties payout, reduces BofA’s potential exposure to higher losses under a stress scenario. And while BofA’s earnings will undoubtedly suffer in the second quarter, Moody’s expects the bank’s capital ratios to remain above the same period of 2010. “The costs incurred are at the high end of the range that Moody’s had previously estimated Bank of America might be required to pay to resolve these matters,” said David Fanger, Moody’s senior vice president. “However, following today’s settlement and the announced addition to reserves, Moody’s believes that (BofA’s) remaining representation and warranty exposures are no longer a negative credit concern.” On June 2, Moody’s placed the banking giant on review for possible downgrade, saying analysts will evaluate the bank’s standalone financial strength to see if credit-risk improvements were made over the past few years. Moody’s expects the settlement will have positive credit implications. BofA’s overall liability for Countrywide assets could reach $24 billion, according to Barclays based on the percentage of deals in the settlement. However, other securities could be concentrated in cleaner vintages, Barclays said. Bank of America’s stock closed at $10.82 Tuesday after word of the settlement leaked. Shares of the component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average opened at $11.15 Wednesday, and activity in BofA is helping push the DJIA toward three days of gains. Write to Christine Ricciardi.

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