Banco Santander SA (SAN), Spain's biggest bank, bought the private banking unit of BNP Paribas SA (BNP) in Miami to help to win more business from wealthy Latin American clients, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

BNP Paribas, France's largest bank, said in a statement today that it had decided to sell the unit, without disclosing the buyer or the price. A spokesman for Santander, who asked not to be named in line with its policy, declined to comment.

BNP said it plans to focus on its wealth management business on markets where the lender has a consumer banking presence or a more developed structure to service wealthy clients. "BNP Paribas Wealth Management remains fully committed to the U.S. through its Bank of the West franchise," the Paris-based lender said in the statement.

Santander's global private banking business had 110.9 billion euros ($153.1 billion) under management and earned 154 million euros for the bank in 2013, according to its annual report. BNP's Miami unit has about $3 billion in assets, said one person, who asked not to be identified because the transaction has not been announced.

French newspaper Les Echos reported the purchase earlier today.

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