British bank Barclays PLC is offering to finance the purchase of its iShares fund unit, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing sources.

The bank, which is looking to boost its capital position and avoid government ownership, is offering to lend up to 80 percent of the unit's price, the newspaper reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The auction for the exchange-traded fund entity has narrowed to two or three bidding groups, among which a consortium led by U.S. private equity firm Hellman & Friedman may have an edge, the newspaper reported.

Bain Capital and private equity firm TPG are also involved in the auction, according to the WSJ.

Barclays said earlier this month that it was considering a sale of iShares, part of its fund management arm, worth about $3 billion pounds ($4.3 billion), according to analysts' estimates.

Barclays could not immediately be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Elinor Comlay; Editing by Gary Hill)