Bank of America will be buying the 94-year-old inventment bank for about $44 billion. The deal was worked out in 48 hours in what the WSJ described as "frenetic negotiating" (they'll write books about this weekend). BofA, of course, is still in the early stages of unraveling the mess at Countrywide, which it purchased a couple of months back. Of the Merrill deal, analyst Nancy Bush told the Journal, ""Ken Lewis always likes to buy the biggest thing he can. So why not this? You are master of the universe, basically."
A combination would create a bank of vast reach, involved in nearly every nook and cranny of the financial system, from credit cards and auto loans to bond and stock underwriting, merger advice and wealth management. It would also show how the credit crisis has created opportunities for financially sound buyers. At $44 billion, or roughly $29 a share, Merrill would be sold at about two-thirds of its value of one year ago, and half its all-time peak value of early 2007.