CHARLOTTE, N.C. - NationsBank Corp. is selling ASB Capital Management, Washington, which has $5.5 billion under management.
NationsBank also is leaving the corporate trust, institutional trust and 401(k) plan record-keeping and administrative services businesses to concentrate on growing its investment management businesses - minus ASB.
The superregional banking company is keeping TradeStreet Investment Associates, a wholly owned subsidiary that advises the NationsFunds mutual funds, and Gartmore Global Partners, a joint venture owned equally by NationsBank and London's Gartmore Investment Management Co.
John Munce, investing and investment management group executive at NationsBank, said the company is talking with prospective buyers.
He wouldn't name them and also wouldn't discuss the price tag.
ASB Capital "no longer fits" with the company's overall strategy for its investment management business, Mr. Munce said.
ASB Capital, like TradeStreet, is a multiproduct firm; Mr. Munce said NationsBank needs only one such firm.
Bank executives ruled out merging ASB into TradeStreet, which are located in different places and follow different styles.
"You don't just take clients and shove them into different companies," said Robert M. Phillips, ASB Capital's president.
The banking company also is keeping its private client group, which manages money for wealthy individuals. That group was put together after the August 1996 acquisition of Boatmen's Bancshares Inc., St. Louis.
NationsBank also is building up the fixed-income investment management business of Boatmen's into Boatmen's Capital Management, alongside Sovran Capital Management, a separate fixed-income manager it acquired through its earlier acquisition of C&S Sovran Bank, Richmond, Va.
With ASB, the banking company has $113 billion under management.
And, NationsBank is looking at growing its investment management business by acquiring mutual fund groups, Mr. Munce said.
As for ASB, he said: "Customers determine who they want to do business with. The best service for customers and best value for shareholders is to find a new owner."
ASB, primarily a fixed-income manager, has been damaged by a series of client defections since its president and several top officials formed Columbia Partners in September 1995.
ASB lost about half its $11 billion-plus in assets since Columbia was formed.
Just last week, ASB lost $1.5 billion in a domestic indexed portfolio for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers pension fund, Washington.
ASB continues to manage about $1 billion for the IBEW pension fund, including $450 million in real estate, Mr. Phillips said.
Mr. Phillips said he already has alerted clients and does not expect any of them to leave because of the ownership change.
"It's business as usual," Mr. Phillips said.
He also said it's too early to say whether ASB's management will attempt to buy the firm.
Mercedes M. Cardona contributed to this story.