JPMorgan Chase (JPM) plans to break off its private-equity unit as an independent firm as the business raises a new fund backed by outside investors.

One Equity Partners will continue to make direct investments on behalf of New York-based JPMorgan for an "interim period" and will still manage the bank's existing group of portfolio companies, the company said today in a statement.

The unit manages about $4.5 billion for the bank, according to the statement. The business eventually will be split off as those investments mature, according to a person with direct knowledge of the plan.

"The One Equity team has produced strong returns over the years," said Matt Zames, JPMorgan's chief operating officer, in the statement. "The time is right for them to seek new capital to strengthen their global strategy, as they continue to manage our existing portfolio to maximize value to the firm."

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