Still in need of cash, as subprime writedowns continue to maul bottom lines, US and European banks are selling off or shuttering non-critical assets. They've already sold stakes to foreign investors and borrowed from central banks; now it's time for the yard sale, as the Wall Street Journal puts it. Citigroup and the UK’s HSBC, among others, are primed to sell.
Merrill Lynch Monday booked $1.3 billion for its commercial lending business, and Morgan Stanley took part of its investment-analysis business public, raising $250 million in November. Experts say Citigroup could raise $12 billion selling small- to mid-sized units and expect HSBC to float its $13 billion US auto-loan unit. Both may struggle to find buyers in the current environment.