Fleet Financial Group said it has agreed to buy the commercial finance unit of Japan-based Sanwa Bank Ltd.

Company representatives declined to comment on the price, but observers placed it at $750 million to $1 billion.

The Chicago-based unit, Sanwa Business Credit, would be merged into Fleet Capital Corp., a Fleet unit specializing in secured lending and leasing.

The Sanwa deal, which had been rumored on Friday, would raise Fleet Capital's assets to about $16 billion. Fleet Capital has about $9 billion of assets.

"Sanwa's operations will strengthen our geographic presence and will fill some important gaps in our product line, including lease financing for manufacturers of capital equipment and leasing programs for small businesses," said Robert J. Higgins, president and chief operating officer of Fleet Financial.

The deal, expected to close in the first quarter, awaits regulatory approval.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.