Blackstone, Carlyle, TPG bid for First Republic

The Carlyle Group, The Blackstone Group and TPG are leading an investor group that is bidding to acquire First Republic Bank, a private banking unit of Bank of America, as first reported last week by Bloomberg News, which cited three people familiar with the matter.

The bank may command a purchase price of $700 million, according to CreditSights Inc. analyst David Hendler.

The firms may partner on the bid with First Republic Chairman James Herbert, the report said.

Bank of America inherited San Francisco-based First Republic when it acquired Merrill Lynch & Co. on Jan. 1. Merrill had paid $1.8 billion for First Republic in 2007. Bank of America, the largest lender nationwide based on assets, is selling businesses to raise capital after receiving $45 billion in government rescue funds. Last week, Bank of America won approval of a capital-raising plan after regulators ordered it to raise $33.9 billion following a government “stress test.”

The Charlotte, N.C.-based bank is also trying to sell its Columbia asset management unit.

Carlyle, Blackstone and Bank of America were not immediately available for comment.

Blackstone and Carlyle were part of a group that agreed to buy BankUnited Financial Corp. last month after regulators seized that Florida lender. Altogether, buyout firms have pumped more than $1 billion in U.S. banks in May after financial companies worldwide racked up almost $1.5 trillion in writedowns and credit losses in the past two years. —Reuters