GENEVA — Julius Baer Group, a Swiss wealth manager established in 1890, is in talks with Bank of America Corp. about acquiring its Merrill Lynch wealth management business outside the United States.
“Given the early stage of these discussions, the outcome is entirely open,” Zurich-based Baer said Tuesday in a statement. Jan Vonder Muehll, a spokesman for bank, declined to elaborate.
The Bank of America wealth unit may fetch about $2 billion, said a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. Sara-Louise Boyes, a London-based spokeswoman for Merrill, declined to comment on whether any part of the business is for sale.
Baer, a private bank with$187 billion in assets under management, is seeking acquisitions and building branch networks in emerging markets and Europe as a crackdown on tax evasion pushes customers to repatriate funds from cross-border accounts. Baer, which bought ING Groep’s Geneva-based wealth business in 2009, is also seeking purchases to compete with larger rivals UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group.
Bank of America, based in Charlotte, N.C., sought first-round offers for the wealth-management units outside the United States in April, a person with direct knowledge of the process said at the time. The bank’s non-US wealth-management units operate in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America.