BlackRock Inc., Franklin Resources Inc. and Federated Investors Inc. made preliminary offers to buy Bank of America Corp.'s mutual fund unit, people familiar with the matter said.

Additional companies may participate in the bidding, which is not open to leveraged buyout firms, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process is private. The Columbia Management unit, which oversees $341 billion, may fetch more than $2 billion, said Michael Kim, an analyst with Sandler O'Neill & Partners LP in New York.

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