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JPMorgan Said to Seek Sale of Global Special Opportunities Group

JPMorgan Chase & Co., the largest U.S. bank, is seeking to sell a global investment unit in a push to simplify operations by paring non-essential holdings, a person familiar with the matter said.

JPMorgan began offering its Global Special Opportunities unit, which has about $2 billion in assets, to potential buyers in the past few weeks, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the talks are confidential. Private-equity firms Blackstone Group LP, Carlyle Group LP and KKR & Co. among possible bidders for the business, which could fetch $1 billion, the Financial Times reported today, citing unidentified people familiar with the situation.

The unit, which is based in Hong Kong, employs 35 people mostly in Asia and is run by Chris Nicholas. It invests the New York-based bank’s money in distressed debt, non-performing loans and private equity. Federal bank regulators last week approved the Volcker Rule, which limits proprietary trading and investing by deposit-taking banks.

“We’re doing a lot of what I call pruning,” Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon, 57, told investors at a conference last week. “Simplify, pruning. You should do it all the time. Every year, businesses should look at what do I need, what don’t I need, how do I serve my clients.”

JPMorgan has already announced plans to spin off its private-equity unit, sell most of its physical commodities business and exit student lending.

Jennifer Zuccarelli, a spokeswoman for the bank, declined to comment, as did Carlyle’s Randy Whitestone and KKR’s Kristi Huller. A Blackstone spokesman didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

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