Texas billionaire Gerald Ford plans to team up with a private equity consortium that's attempting to acquire First Republic Bank.

Ford is seeking to join the group that includes Carlyle Group, Blackstone Group, and TPG Capital, said a person familiar with the matter.

News of Ford's efforts was reported earlier by the Financial Times.

Officials of Carlyle and TPG declined to comment. Ford and a Blackstone spokesman weren't available for comment.

An investor group led by Ford obtained a "shelf charter" last year to buy failed banks. The charter was approved by the Office of the Comptroller of Currency in November to acquire banks in receivership under the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

The group included Flexpoint Ford LLC, a private equity firm where Ford serves as chairman. The investors will have about $1.38 billion available for a transaction, including capital from several Flexpoint funds.

Last year, Flexpoint Ford changed its name from Flexpoint Partners to reflect Ford's increased role. Ford's investments have included Golden State Bancorp, a California thrift sold to Citigroup Inc. for $5.8 billion in 2002.

It isn't clear whether Ford plans to invest on his own behalf or through Flexpoint in First Republic.

First Republic, of San Francisco, was part of Merrill Lynch & Co., which was acquired by Bank of America (BAC) last year. Bank of America put First Republic on the block in an effort to raise capital.

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