FleetBoston Financial and Liberty Financial, both of Boston, are said to be negotiating the sale of Liberty’s asset management unit to Fleet, according to the Boston Herald.

The deal could be finalized as early as the beginning of next week, according to an unnamed source cited by the Herald. Fleet Investment Advisors sells funds through its two subsidiaries, Columbia Funds of Portland, Ore. and Galaxy Funds of Boston. Columbia sells 15 no-load funds, separately managed accounts and private wealth management while Galaxy sells 30 funds through financial intermediaries. Liberty’s asset management unit includes Stein Roe & Farnham of Chicago, Newport Pacific Management of San Francisco, Crabbe Huson Group of Portland, Ore., Progress Investment Management of Boston and Liberty Wanger Asset Management of Chicago. Combined, those businesses held $49.9 billion in assets as of March 31. (MFMN 5/14/01)Liberty announced it would sell its asset management unit nearly seven months ago and since that time, several money managers, including Prudential Plc of London and First Union of Charlotte, N.C., have expressed an interest in acquiring the company but Liberty has not yet found a buyer. (MFMN 5/14/01) Liberty’s inability to sell its asset management units has been blamed on poor market conditions, possible due diligence problems and an offering of companies that are too diverse. (MFMN 5/14/01). Liberty Financial did not return calls seeking comment.

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