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BofA expected to sell First Republic Bank to private-equity group

October 21, 2009 | 10:59 am

California-based First Republic Bank, which caters to the well-heeled, will finally get its freedom again after two years under the control of first Merrill Lynch and then Bank of America Corp. reported that BofA has agreed to sell First Republic to a group including private equity firms General Atlantic and Colony Capital. Price tag: About $1 billion.

BofA had been expected to jettison First Republic as the banking giant restructures and looks to bolster its capital by selling non-strategic assets. Merrill Lynch bought First Republic in 2007 for $1.8 billion; BofA then swallowed Merrill last year.

The private equity group will take about $12 billion of First Republic’s assets, while BofA will keep about $2 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported.

First Republic, headquartered in San Francisco, also has offices in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Newport Beach, San Diego, Las Vegas, Portland, Seattle, Boston and New York City.

-- Tom Petruno