Merrill Lynch (MER) Announces Sale of U.S. ABS CDOs; To Issues $8.5 Billion in Common Stock

July 28, 2008 5:32 PM EDT
Merrill Lynch (NYSE: MER) announced a series of actions to significantly reduce the company’s risk exposures and further strengthen its capital position. These actions include:

Announced substantial sale of U.S. super senior ABS CDO(1) securities, resulting in an exposure reduction of $11.1 billion from June 27, 2008;

Agreement to terminate ABS CDO hedges with monoline guarantor XL Capital Assurance Inc. (“XL”) and settlement negotiations with other monoline counterparties;

Plans to issue new common shares with gross proceeds of approximately $8.5 billion through a public offering launched today (excluding a fifteen percent, or approximately $1.3 billion, option granted to the underwriter to purchase additional shares of common stock to cover over-allotments);

Agreement that Temasek Holdings will purchase $3.4 billion of common stock in the public offering, a portion of which is subject to receipt of regulatory approvals;

Exchange of all of the outstanding mandatory convertible preferred securities for common stock or new preferred securities, which eliminates the reset features in the original securities; and

Purchase of approximately 750 thousand shares of common stock in the public offering by executive management.

As a result of the transactions announced today, the company expects to record a pre-tax write-down in the third quarter of 2008 of approximately $5.7 billion. This write-down is comprised of a $4.4 billion loss associated with the sale of CDOs, a $0.5 billion net loss on the termination of hedges with XL Capital Assurance and an approximately $0.8 billion maximum loss related to the potential settlement of other CDO hedges with certain monoline counterparties.

In the third quarter, Merrill Lynch also expects to record an expense of $2.5 billion related to its reset payment to Temasek and $2.4 billion of additional dividends as a result of the exchange of certain existing mandatory convertible preferred stock for common stock as described under "Common Stock Offerings and Early Conversion of Mandatory Convertible Preferred."

CDO Sale:

On July 28, 2008, Merrill Lynch agreed to sell $30.6 billion gross notional amount of U.S. super senior ABS CDOs to an affiliate of Lone Star Funds for a purchase price of $6.7 billion. At the end of the second quarter of 2008, these CDOs were carried at $11.1 billion, and in connection with this sale Merrill Lynch will record a write-down of $4.4 billion pre-tax in the third quarter of 2008.

On a pro forma basis, this sale will reduce Merrill Lynch's aggregate U.S. super senior ABS CDO long exposures from $19.9 billion at June 27, 2008, to $8.8 billion, the majority of which comprises older vintage collateral - 2005 and earlier. The pro forma $8.8 billion super senior long exposure is hedged with an aggregate of $7.2 billion of short exposure, of which $6.0 billion are with highly-rated non-monoline counterparties, of which virtually all have strong collateral servicing agreements, and $1.1 billion are with MBIA. The remaining net exposure will be $1.6 billion. The sale will reduce Merrill Lynch's risk-weighted assets by approximately $29 billion.

Merrill Lynch will provide financing to the purchaser for approximately 75% of the purchase price. The recourse on this loan will be limited to the assets of the purchaser. The purchaser will not own any assets other than those sold pursuant to this transaction. The transaction is expected to close within 60 days.

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