After months of rumors, Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) announced today that it plans to sell its asset management arm to the private equity firms GTCR and Reverence Capital Partners for $2.1 billion.

Under the agreement, Wells Fargo will retain a 9.9% equity stake in the unit, and will continue to be a client and distribution partner.

In selling the unit, Wells Fargo will be off-loading $603 billion in assets under management, 24 offices, and 450 employees. But the move continues the bank's strategy of exiting business lines that are not core to its U.S. franchise.

"This transaction reflects Wells Fargo's strategy to focus on businesses that serve our core consumer and corporate clients, and will allow us to focus even more on growing our wealth and brokerage businesses," Barry Sommers, CEO of Wells Fargo's wealth and investment management division, said in a statement.

Wells Fargo

Image source: Wells Fargo.

Rumors began circulating last October that Wells Fargo may sell its asset management unit. At the time, various media outlets reported that people familiar with the matter said the unit could fetch as much as $3 billion.

But the $2.1 billion price tag likely reflects the 10% stake Wells Fargo will retain. 

In past months, the bank has made other moves to sharpen its strategic focus. In December, Wells Fargo sold its student loan portfolio, which had a balance of roughly $10 billion. But it reportedly chose to keep its private-label credit card business that it had also been rumored to be shopping around.

The sale of the asset management arm is expected to close in the second half of the year. Shares of Wells Fargo traded more than 1% lower around 10 a.m. EST this morning.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.