Shareholders of Bank of America Corp. approved the Charlotte bank's decision to purchase Merrill Lynch & Co. today, clearing the way for the deal to close by the end of the year.
Earlier in the day, Merrill Lynch shareholders also approved the deal, voting in New York.
More than two-thirds of all Bank of America shares were voted in favor of the deal. However, some investors spoke against it at the Charlotte meeting, which more than 250 people attended. Some said they opposed the deal because of job cuts that are likely to result. Others questioned the wisdom of buying a large investment firm that has been posting losses. They said they'd prefer that Bank of America stick to commercial banking, which are the plain-vanilla type of loans that are usually less profitable but also less risky.
"History tells us this: Commercial banking and investment banking do not mix," said John Moore, a Charlotte shareholder who was one of about ten to take to the microphone. "Exotic derivatives and structured security investment vehicles must never again be allowed anywhere near the mortgage on your daughter's house or your grandfather's certificate of deposit."
John Burke, a retired General Electric worker from Salisbury, agreed. "This is the merger of a commercial bank that wants to be an investment bank merging with an investment bank that's not doing very well," Burke said.
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