The valuation of Mellon bankshares in the 2007 merger exceeded the net valuation of the thrift’s assets by $11bn.
The Dow jones US financials index is currently at 60% of the 2003 index or less than half of the 2004 index. Bankshares aren’t going to be at 2007 prices any time soon.
The $11bn excess over purchase price would appear to have been significantly impaired.
Bank of NY Mellon has posted earnings of $1.3bn in the nine months to Sept 2008. For some the Bank of NY Mellon has an image of solid asset management and continued profit making despite the current crisis and so I think their Q4 figure could come as a surprise for some.
Migration of financial services to Europe which, CEO Renyi described in the Financial Times on Friday, May 18, 2007 as a “… clear and unmistakable threat” to New York losing its preeminence as a global financial center. Monitoring the American Depositary (not ary, NOT ory) Receipt business, in which BNY is, by far, the leading provider, shows that foreign corporations have now much greater inclination to list elsewhere.
More important than these esoteric and systemic risks, is the effect of a decline in world-wide trading and asset valuations. Securities processing and financial services fees are based on assets. If a financial asset falls 25% in value, fees needed to pay for servicing this asset will fall 25%. A financial downturn or an economic downturn that would bring it on will depress the bank’s earnings, but perhaps not as much as earnings derived from lending, which is the principal source of income for traditional banks. Nevertheless, profits from securities processing businesses are tied to trading volume and asset values, thus a down earnings in securities services because of a downtown in asset values can only be overcome by acquiring more assets.
BNY has been sued Russia's Federal Customs Service is seeking $22.5 billion in damages for alleged money laundering between 1996 and 1999. (See Bloomberg.com – 17 May 2007). Given the current deterioration of the relationship between the US and Russia and the centralization of power in Russia that is now underway, it isn’t clear that this suit has any merit. Forbes reported that some observers believe the suit was no more that a Russian mob-backed attempt at a shakedown a week before the shareholder vote to approve the BNY/Mellon merger. However, the suit is claiming three quarters of the BNY’s current $31 billion in capitalization.
Despite a successful merger, the integration of BNY and Mellon may go less smoothly than expected resulting in cost savings lower than projected, perhaps no cost savings, or even increased costs to make the integration work.