Bank of America is looking to sell a private bank it inherited from Merrill Lynch & Co. as the bank tries to preserve capital and possibly shed noncore assets, said a report on the Wall Street Journal's Web site, citing people familiar with the situation.

The private bank, First Republic Bank, was purchased by Merrill for $1.8 billion in September 2007 to bolster the securities firm's wealth-management and banking operations. Merrill ran First Republic as a stand-alone unit with its own brand name and management.

The article cited Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Morgan Stanley as possible buyers of First Republic.

Bank of America executives are examining noncore assets and noncore businesses, looking for any that are no longer strategic fits, said the report, citing sources close to Bank of America.

Bank of America declined to comment on the report. Representatives of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Euan Rocha)