If things really get worse for Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), the bank may consider a partial spin off of Merrill Lynch, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
In a request by the U.S. Federal Reserve, BofA was asked to provide a contingency plan to the Fed for what it would do if its business worsens, according to the report, citing people close to the matter.
A Bank of America spokesman said BofA does "not comment on interactions with our regulators."
One of many options on the list includes the issuance of a Merrill Lynch tracking stock, the Journal said, which would track the performance of Merrill, including all revenues and expenses, separately from BofA.
Merrill, which was purchased by BofA in 2009, has become its most profitable division.
The Feds call comes as the Charlotte, N.C.-based company continues to suffer under high legal costs and other expenses related to the mortgage mess stirred by Countrywide.
Banking analyst Dick Bove told FOX Business Friday that all big U.S. banks, not just BofA, are required to submit a contingency plan to the Fed under the Dodd Frank Act to indicate how they would disassemble their business in the likelihood that they might fail.
Major Wall Street banks have been at the crux of an investigation by the U.S. over their mortgage practices. On Thursday, Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) was added to a list of banks that already includes J.P. Morgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), BofA, Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) and Citigroup (NYSE:C) being prodded by the government over their mortgage arms.
The U.S. Federal Housing Finance Agency is reportedly gearing up for a major lawsuit against those banks for misrepresenting the quality of mortgage securities sold at the height of the housing bubble, according to a report in the New York Times on Friday.