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Bank of America sells stake in Chinese bank

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Jeremy Hobson: Bank of America has just taken a drastic step in search of cash. It is selling much of its stake in the China Construction Bank, which gave BofA a way into the fast-growing Chinese real estate market.

Marketplace’s Eve Troeh reports.

Eve Troeh: Bank of America needs cash — fast. $50 billion to convince investors and international regulators that it’s strong. So, it’s been selling assets — like its credit card business in Canada and Europe. And now billions of shares in China Construction Bank. That gets Bank of America more than $3 billion closer to its goal.

Arthur Kroeber at Dragonomics research in Beijing says even though it was a fire sale, they got a good deal.

Arthur Kroeber: It’s very unlikely that China Construction Bank’s stock price is going to be much higher two, or three, or five years from now.

That’s because Chinese banks have been lending a lot in recent years. Eventually they’ll need to show more capital, the way Bank of America has to do right now. That could limit growth.

BofA still holds 5 percent of China Construction Bank, and plans to continue what both are calling a strategic partnership. But Kroeber says the Chinese bank hasn’t treated BofA like much of a partner since it bought in — it seemed to mostly just want the money. And there are now plenty of other investors willing to provide that.

I’m Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

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