BANK of America said yesterday it has agreed to sell First Republic Bank (FRB), the private bank and wealth manager, to a private-equity group in a deal expected to be worth over $1bn (£602m).<br /><br />A consortium including General Atlantic and Colony Capital are set to take over the unit, which was originally bought by Merrill Lynch for $1.8bn in 2007.<br /><br />The deal is being led by First Republic’s existing management and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2010.<br /><br />First Republic was acquired by Bank of America as part of the package when it bought Merrill Lynch, in a lifeline deal at the depths of the credit crunch. The unit has been seen as a bad fit with Bank of America’s retail operations. <br /><br />As of 30 September 2009 First Republic had $19bn in total assets, $16bn in deposits, and $15bn in wealth management assets.<br /><br />FRB’s Jim Herbert, chairman and founding chief executive officer, will continue in his current job. <br /><br />Bank of America Merrill Lynch acted as financial advisor for Bank of America. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz acted as legal advisor to Bank of America.