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Tepid Bids for BofA's Columbia Unit (Update)

(Editor's note: This article has been updated since its original publication to reflect that Oppenheimer Holdings has never been interested in Columbia while OppenheimerFunds declined to comment. A clarification also has been published.)

Bank of America's (BAC) Columbia Management unit isn't garnering the amount of interest the nation's largest bank expected.

Bids for the asset management business have been lukewarm, the Financial Times reports, with bids coming in around $2 billion, far less than the $3 billion Bank of America expected to get for the business.

A sale of the unit also got tougher now that BlackRock (BLK), once seen as the likeliest suitor for Columbia, instead opted to buy Barclays Global Investors for $13.5 billion.

Bank of America took over Columbia when it acquired FleetBoston several years ago. Executives have said Columbia doesn't fit the bank's model.

Bank of America may consider dividing Columbia into two and entertaining separate offers for its money market funds operation, the Financial Times reports, citing people close to the matter.

Large asset managers interested in buying Columbia could be Invesco (IVZ), Franklin Templeton, a unit of Franklin Resources (BEN) or Oppenheimer, the newspaper reports.

The newspaper was not clear about which Oppenheimer company was interested. A spokeswoman for OppenheimerFunds Inc. declined to comment. The unrelated Oppenheimer Holdings (OPY) is not interested and has never been involved in any discussions with BofA about Columbia, according to Lou Colasuonno, managing director of FD, a communications firm representing Oppenheimer Holdings.

Bank of America had no comment for the Financial Times.

Bank of America also is trying to sell its First Republic Bank subsidiary, which caters to wealthy investors.

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