Bank of America Corp. is looking to sell a private bank it inherited from Merrill Lynch & Co. as the bank tries to preserve capital and possibly shed noncore assets, according to people familiar with the situation.

The private bank, First Republic Bank, was purchased by Merrill for $1.8 billion in September 2007 to bolster the securities firm's wealth-management and banking operations. Merrill ran First Republic as a standalone unit with its own brand name and management.

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