Blackstone and Carlyle Bid for First Republic Bank

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Carlyle Group CYL.UL and Blackstone Group LP (BX.N) are leading an investor group that is bidding to acquire First Republic Bank, a private banking unit of Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), Bloomberg News said on Tuesday, citing three people familiar with the matter.

The private equity firms may partner with First Republic Chairman James Herbert, the report said, citing one of the people.

Bank of America inherited San Francisco-based First Republic when it acquired Merrill Lynch & Co on January 1. Merrill had paid $1.8 billion for First Republic in 2007.

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

Bank of America has taken $45 billion of federal bailout money, and this week won approval of a capital-raising plan after regulators ordered the largest U.S. bank to raise $33.9 billion following a government “stress test.”

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

Blackstone and Carlyle were part of a group that agreed to buy BankUnited Financial Corp (BKUNQ.PK) last month after regulators seized that Florida lender.

(Writing by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Gary Hill)