BNP Paribas Buys BofA Prime Brokerage

Jun 10 2008 | 2:14pm ET

Five months after putting its prime brokerage up for sale, Bank of America has finally found a buyer.

BNP Paribas, France’s biggest bank, has agreed to buy the unit, instantly making it one of the largest prime brokers in the U.S. BofA has more than 500 hedge fund clients at its prime brokerage, which employs 300. The deal, which is expected to close in the second half, will see BofA prime brokerage’s client relationships, employees and technology systems transferred to BNP.

“BNP Paribas has all the capabilities to become a leader in the prime brokerage industry, including a double-A-plus credit rating, strong balance sheet, global platform and market-leading derivatives business,” Todd Steinberg, head of equities and derivatives in the Americas at BNP, said. “The combination of BNP Paribas’ strengths and this excellent equity prime brokerage platform will create a powerful new player in the industry.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

BofA said in January it would sell the prime brokerage business, as the bank sought to cut its investment banking operations. At the time, Brian Moynihan, head of corporate and investment banking at the Charlotte, N.C.-based firm, said BofA prime brokerage’s “return attributes… are not so strong.” The division has also been wracked by a series of high-level departures.

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