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Merrill Loss Is $4.9 Billion, May Sell $8 Billion Assets

Reuters
Thursday, 17 Jul 2008 | 4:26 PM ET

Merrill Lynchposted a $4.9 billion second-quarter loss because of writedowns but said it is close to selling $8 billion of assets in a bid to raise fresh capital.

The third-largest U.S. investment bank said its quarterly loss applicable to common stockholders equaled $4.97 per share compared with a profit of $2.07 billion, or $2.24 per share, a year earlier. Net revenue fell to $7.5 billion.

Excluding restructuring charges, Merrill lost $4.42 a share, compared with analysts' average expected loss of $1.94 a share according to Reuters Estimates.

Shares of the company fell 6.9 percent in after-market trading.

Chief Executive John Thain said, "Our core franchise continues to perform well despite the extremely challenging market environment."

The company, which has recorded more than $30 billion of write-downs since the third quarter of last year, has been one of the hardest hit by the credit crisis on Wall Street.

On Wednesday, Merrill agreed to sell its 20 percent stake in Bloomberg back to the media company for $4.5 billion, although Merrill decided not to sell its 49 percent stake in BlackRock.

Owing to recent banking sector turmoil, Merrill has been under pressure to raise capital by selling off various assets, like the Bloomberg stake.

However, Merrill CEO John Thain has faced pressure from rating agencies not to sell the BlackRock stake.

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