Morgan Stanley is close to selling a British wealth management unit to private equity firm Bridgepoint, marking the second time it has sold the firm after re-acquiring it through its majority interest in Smith Barney, two sources said.

Bridgepoint is in exclusive talks to buy Quilter, a wealth manager catering to clients not rich enough to form part of Morgan Stanley's UK private banking operation, which focuses on the super rich, one source familiar with the matter said.

Quilter, with 7.6 billion pounds under management, takes private clients prepared to invest at least 25,000 pounds, while international private banking businesses such as Morgan Stanley's typically cater to clients worth millions.

Morgan Stanley first sold Quilter to rival Citi in 2006, before coming to own it again after buying a majority stake in Smith Barney from Citi.

U.S. banking groups like Morgan Stanley operate private banks in Europe that concentrate on the super rich, while running wealth management brokerage businesses in their home market for the so-called mass affluent.

Quilter, Morgan Stanley and Bridgepoint all declined to comment.

(Reporting by Chris Vellacott and Simon Meads; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)