For the first time since Merrill Lynch acquisition, BofA exceeds JPMorgan Chase in investment banking fees

By Nicel Jane Avellana

Jan 16, 2014 01:14 AM EST

Bank of America Corp was able to beat JPMorgan Chase & Co for the first time since it bought Merrill Lynch & Co in the 2008 financial crisis in terms of investment banking fees, Bloomberg reported. BofA is the second largest lender in the US and JPMorgan is its bigger rival.

Last year, BofA increased the fees it collected for debt and equity issuance and advice for various activities like mergers 17% to 6.41 billion, the report said. Rival JPMorgan Chase & Co, on the other hand, only collected $6.33 billion.

BofA's investment banking operations was able to benefit from a record year of debt underwriting when corporations capitalized on the record-low rates of junk bonds before the Federal Reserve started to taper its bond-buying program, the report said. Christian Meissner runs BofA's investment banking operations which is overseen by Thomas Montag, the bank's Chief Operating Officer.

For Portales Partners LLC Analyst Charles Peabody, the question now is if BofA's investment banking operations will still be able to retain the top spot when rates go up. About the increase in fees as a result of debt, he told Bloomberg in a phone interview, "It's not even close to sustainable. It wouldn't shock me if fixed-income revenues, issuance and trading, were down 20 percent in 2014. Over the course of the year, rising rates will become a dislocative factor that will cut that pipeline at some point."

The report said investment banking services, which encompass deal advisory and securities underwriting, take the backseat to the trading operations in the broader investment bank divisions of both JPMorgan and BofA. In these firms, trading generates nearly three times as much revenue as investment banking, the report said.

As far as trading goes, JPMorgan is the leader. Last year, its corporate and investment bank was able to earn $15.5 billion from fixed-income trading compared to BofA's $9.37 billion. JPMorgan earned $4.76 billion from equities while BofA only got $4.22 billion, the report said.

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