The investment bank FBR (FBRC) may put its asset-management business up for sale and, if it does, it is likely to draw significant interest from commercial banks.
The Arlington, Va., firm disclosed in a brief Securities and Exchange Commission filing Wednesday that it has hired an unnamed adviser to help it seek strategic alternatives for the unit, including its possible sale. The company said it would not comment further on the move unless a definitive deal is reached.
Commercial banks are likely to be among the bidders if the unit is put on the block. Many are looking to bulk up in wealth management in an effort to grow revenues and generate more fee income and an acquisition is the quickest route to achieving those objectives. City National Bank (CYN) in Los Angeles, for example, recently struck a deal to buy Rochdale Investment Management in New York and it has made no secret of its desire to acquire more wealth firms. Others that have been buying wealth units of late include Wells Fargo (WFC) and Bryn Mawr Bank (BMTC) in Pennsylvania.
According to a report in the Washington Business Journal Thursday, FBR's asset-management arm operates a family of 10 mutual fund products and has roughly $1.7 billion of assets under management. In 2011, the unit accounted for 10.2% of the company's net revenue, up from 5.7% in 2010, the Washington Business Journal reported.