Deep-pocketed European bank groups are among the most likely buyers of BankAmerica Corp.'s Robertson Stephens & Co., people close to the company say.

On Tuesday, executives at Robertson Stephens confirmed that they had asked San Francisco-based BankAmerica to put the investment bank up for sale. The move came in the wake of BankAmerica's plan to merge with Charlotte, N.C.-based NationsBank Corp., which owns Montgomery Securities, an archrival of Robertson Stephens that competes in many of the same businesses.

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