BofA / Merrill, BNP, Commerzbank, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche, Lehman, Morgan Stanley

The Financial Times reports that Bank of America has had to put on hold its plans to sell some of its stake in China Construction Bank. There is speculation that the plan stalled when the bank discovered that Chinese regulators, who are thuoght to be unhappy about the timing of the intended sale, pointed out that they had the power to prevent BofA from taking any profit on its holding.

Bloomberg reports that Bob Wigley, Merrill Lynch's most senior executive in Europe, is to leave the firm ahead of its merger with Bank of America. Jonathan Moulds, who currently head BofA's international operations, will become the point man for Europe, Latin America and Canada in the combined organisation.

BNP Paribas's shares have been under pressure this week, following the announcement of losses over at its investment bank. The unit is now to axe 800 jobs. Deutsche Bank's stock has also been under stress this week, after concerns about its fourth-quarter earnings and the bank chose not to exercise a call option on a $1bn subordinated bond.

The New York Times reports that Ladenburg Thalmann analyst Richard Bove has said that he expects Citi to post a sizeable fourth-quarter loss, after taking writedowns similar in size to those seen this week at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

Reuters reports that Credit Suisse is to stop managing US money market funds, and will liquidate 3 funds that have assets of around $8bn. A spokesperson for the bank said: 'We have decided to wind down these funds to focus and invest in areas where we have scale and can deliver competitive advantage'.

Bloomberg reports that Commerzbank could face possible losses on its now $32bn exposure in shipping loans, as world shipping volumes plunge.

The New York Post reports that former Merrill Lynch CEO Stan O'Neal has transferred the ownership of his $20m Park Avenue apartment to his wife, giving rise to speculation that he is trying to protect himself from possible investor lawsuits. Sources close to O'Neal, however, have said that this is an estate-planning issue that has been in the works for years.

The International Herald Tribune reports that Matthew Devlin, a former investment banker at Lehman Brothers, has been charged in the US with passing on insider information on at least 12 merger deals beginning March 2004. Devlin is accused of using information he obtained from his wife, who was employed by public relations group Brunswick. Mrs Devlin is said to have been 'completely unaware' that her husband's alleged activities.

Morgan Stanley reported a $2.2bn fourth-quarter loss Wednesday, after asset writedowns and real estate and principal investment losses. CEO John Mack said: 'Exceptional market conditions profoundly impacted our performance this year, especially in the fourth-quarter. We still achieved three quarters of profitable results, and are moving aggressively to reposition the firm for the future'. Richard Bove has increased his price target on the stock by 20% to $18.

Finally, Reuters reports that Lazard Freres has been mandated by the liquidator of alleged fraudster Bernard Madoff's investment group to sell its trading unit.

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