Statewide: Charlotte region, October 2014

 In 2014-10

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BofA gets what it pays for
So much for being a good deal. In August, Charlotte-based Bank of America settled its latest beef with the U.S. Department of Justice for $16.7 billion, the most money a federal agency has ever extracted from a company. The pact resolves numerous investigations into how BofA and companies it bought — Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch — packaged and sold mortgage-backed securities, which were marketed as secure investments but collapsed when the housing bubble burst. Some outstanding litigation remains, but this is “the beginning of the end,” says Tony Plath, an associate professor of finance at UNC Charlotte. “Those last few pieces need to be cleaned up, and then they’ll be able to go back to thinking like Bank of America.” BofA agreed to buy Calabasas, Calif.-based Countrywide in 2008 for $4 billion, which then-CEO Ken Lewis called an “attractive price” for the nation’s largest home lender. The bargain has turned into a half-decade — and counting — debacle. BofA has spent more than $60 billion cleaning up its legal mess, federal filings and investor documents show. “Without the acquisition of Merrill Lynch, they never could have paid it. Merrill Lynch has been extremely profitable,” Plath says. “The government really ought to thank them. Countrywide would have been the biggest bailout in government history.”

Briefs

CHARLOTTEElectrolux will acquire Fairfield, Conn.-based General Electric’s appliance division for $3.3 billion. The deal is expected to close in 2015. The Stockholm-based appliance-maker is spending $85 million to expand its North American headquarters here. North Carolina awarded the company $27.4 million amid plans to increase local employment from 760 to about 1,600 by the end of 2017.

INDIAN TRAILHarris Teeter will invest more than $5.5 million to expand its distribution center here, adding 41 jobs over three years to the existing 227. The Matthews-based grocery-store chain, a subsidiary of Cincinnati-based Kroger since January, has 220 stores in eight states and Washington, D.C. Average annual salary for the new jobs will be more than $46,000, higher than Union County’s average of $38,450.

CHARLOTTEWells Fargo named Rick Redden regional president for the Carolinas. A 21-year veteran of the San Francisco-based bank and president of the South Carolina region since 2007, he will be based here and succeeds Stan Kelly, who retired in August after holding the position since the bank acquired Charlotte-based Wachovia in 2009.

CHARLOTTEEaton will close its clutch-assembly plant here, idling 84 people by the end of 2015. The Dublin-based company will move its work to plants in Indiana and Mexico. Eaton, which employs nearly 4,000 in North Carolina, makes products for the electrical, aerospace and automotive industries.

CHARLOTTE — David Darnell became vice chairman of Bank of America and will move to Tampa, Fla. The Charlotte native was co-chief operating officer with Thomas Montag since 2011 and, before that, president of global commercial banking. Darnell, 61, joined the bank as a credit analyst in 1979.

CHARLOTTESonic Automotive will launch a chain of used-car dealerships under the EchoPark brand. It will open three dealerships in Denver by year-end and more in Colorado next year. Sonic has more than 100 dealerships in 14 states and employs about 9,500.

CHARLOTTEPremier will acquire Raleigh-based Aperek, which provides supply-chain services for the health-care industry, for $48.5 million. It’s the fifth acquisition completed or announced by Premier, which provides purchasing and data-management services to more than 113,000 health-care providers, since July 2013.

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