BofA May Unload BlackRock Stake

Bank of America Corp. (BofA) may be divesting itself of its 34% share of BlackRock Inc., according to published reports.

The bank has decided that its 64.7 million common and preferred shares of BlackRock is not a core asset and is therefore considering reducing its holding.

The asset manager reportedly has the right of first refusal on any sale of the shares, valued at $9 billion. Although a lockup preventing the bank from selling the holding expired Sept 29, 2009, though there are still restrictions on how much BofA can sell at any one time, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Bank of America acquired the holding in the asset manager through its purchase of Merrill Lynch (see “Bank of America Buys Merrill Lynch“). Merrill Lynch had acquired its stake in 2006 when the companies agreed to merge Merrill Lynch Investment Management (MLIM) with BlackRock to form a new independent investment management firm operating under the BlackRock name (see “BlackRock and Merrill Lynch Join Forces in Asset Management“).