U.S. asset manager Fortress Investment Group and Italy's Prelios, a real estate group, are expected to jointly purchase UCCMB, the debt collection unit of UniCredit, Italy's largest bank by assets.

UniCredit put UCCMB and the firm's portfolio of bad loans up for sale early this year, with the goal of freeing up funds for new lending. UCCMB manages an estimated $50.7 billion [40 billion euros] of non-performing loans, 20% belonging to UniCredit wit the remainder owned by other banks and firms.

The deal under negotiation will include an agreement by which UniCredit will continue to supply UCCMB with bad loans to manage for 10 years. The sale is expected to be finalized in the "near future," officials with the company said.

Fortress and Prelios are expected to buy UniCredit's 98% stake in UCCMB business operations, or "platform", and a bad loan portfolio worth an estimated 3.4 billion euros, Reuters previously reported. UCCMB post-sale will keep managing small-ticket bad loans on UniCredit's books, while credit with large clients will be managed by the lender directly.

A completed acquisition would cap months of negotiations with several investors who showed interest in the deal, while UniCredit sheds other assets to shore up its capital base in view of the coming results of a health check of European banks’ finances.

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