BankBoston Corp. has sold its equity share in Partners First, a Baltimore credit card company, to a subsidiary of Bank of Montreal.

The sale generated a pretax gain of about $50 million in cash for BankBoston.

Partners First was formed in 1998 as a joint venture between BankBoston; Bank of Montreal and its Chicago-based Harris Bank subsidiary; and First Annapolis Consulting. The idea was to manage credit card portfolios for these banks and others.

In March, when BankBoston and Fleet Financial Group announced plans to merge, BankBoston said it would withdraw from the partnership. Bank of Montreal maintains a controlling interest in partners First.

"BankBoston was a minority partner in this venture, and this sale is another example of BankBoston's managing for value strategy," said Peter Manning, executive vice president at BankBoston. "At this point in time, it makes sense to take this opportunity to divest our ownership."

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