Bank of America Corp.'s announcement Wednesday that it would sell to Bank of New York Co. about $9 billion worth of custodial accounts was not particularly surprising, but it did give the Charlotte, N.C., banking company an opportunity to underscore its renewed commitment to high-net-worth investment management.

Investment management and asset management, along with electronic commerce, were singled out as areas for growth and investment in July, when the company announced major cutbacks and layoffs.

"Bank of America wants to focus its resources on the money management business and not the custodian business for other money managers," said David W. Fisher, president of the asset management trust group and the senior fiduciary officer for the bank. Other money managers are "really competitors of ours," he added.

Mr. Fisher, who joined Bank of America when it merged with NationsBank in 1998, said the bank - like many of its peers - has been de-emphasizing the custody business for the last four or five years. Most of the accounts being bought by Bank of New York, one of only a few remaining large players in the custody field, came with NationsBank's acquisition of the former BankAmerica."I've done this three or four times now," Mr. Fisher said. "When we've merged a new company and we've found that somebody has built up a little business in this, I have methodically gotten out of it."

Mr. Fisher said the bank will offer custody services only for customers utilizing other bank services. "We do it for high-net-worth clients," he said. "If they have $100 million and they want us to manage $50 million in a discretionary relationship and they want to have $50 million with another investment adviser, we'll do it in those circumstances because that's a full-blown banking relationship in which we manage a lot of money."

Mr. Fisher is one of six key private banking executives who report to asset management group president Owen G. "Bob" Shell.

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