BofA Likely to Sell Overseas Wealth Unit to Julius Baer

Two months after announcing plans to sell its overseas wealth-management unit, Bank of America is in advanced, exclusive discussions about a potential $1.5 billion to $2 billion deal with the Swiss private-banking firm Julius Baer, said a person familiar with the matter.

Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images

Purchasing the Bank of America division would significantly increase Baer’s size and scope, this person adds, adding particular strength in Asia and Latin America. Bank of America is selling its entire non-domestic business with the exception of its Japanese division. The bank will continue to cover foreign clients, however, through its U.S. offices.

Spokesmen for Bank of America and Baer declined to comment on the matter.

Bank of America has been under pressure during the past year to pare costs and raise additional cash as it prepares itself for the Basel III regulations, which increase the need for liquidity and capital buffers. A sale of its non-U.S. wealth-management unit would be the latest divestment in a long series of transactions intended to better focus the business and raise additional cash.

Julius Baer, which manages assets of roughly $187 billion, is Switzerland’s biggest private bank. In recent years, it has been under investigation by U.S. prosecutors for allegedly aiding Americans in tax evasion.

—By CNBC’s Kate Kelly