Mellon Bank Corp. said Friday it has hired Goldman Sachs & Co. to help sell its corporate trust business, which administers $70 billion in outstanding debt.
Analysts estimated the operation, which provides trustee and other services for corporate, municipal, state, and institutional bond issues, could sell for between $60 million and $70 million.
The offering should draw interest from Bank of New York, First Bank System of Minneapolis, and State Street Boston Corp. Those three are among the nation's top providers of corporate trust-which is in large part a bond indenture business that draws most of its revenues from government bond issues.
"Corporate trust is a business that is driven by scale, with increasingly intense competition among a narrowing group of major providers," said Frank V. Cahouet, Mellon's chairman and chief executive.
Mellon is following a trend among banks to exit businesses, even profitable ones, that are going to require large investments in technology in the future. The company said the business, with 6,600 accounts, generated revenue of about $1 billion last year.
James Schutz, an analyst with ABN Amro Chicago Corp., said corporate trust represents about $3.5 million to $4 million a year in income for Mellon, and is only a fraction of Mellon's $1.3 trillion in trust assets under management or administration.
Mr. Schutz said the business could sell for 18 times to 19 times its earnings.
Mellon, which said it hopes to sell the operation by yearend, said it plans to focus on its other trust businesses, which include personal, institutional, and custodial, as well as its investment management operations.
A spokesman said the company is committed to building its other trust businesses.