UBS Group AG is evaluating options for its asset management unit, including a partial sale or merger of the business, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The Swiss bank has considered seeking to acquire Deutsche Bank AG’s asset manager DWS Group, potentially to combine it with its own business and spin off the two as a separate entity, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private.
UBS may still keep the unit unchanged and discussions may not lead to a deal, they said.
Asset management, which offers funds for retail clients and institutions, is the smallest unit of UBS, whose main focus is on the more lucrative wealth management — the tailored business of overseeing the fortunes of the rich.
While margins in both businesses are under pressure, asset management in particular has been hit by an investor flight into cheaper, passive funds. Unit head Ulrich Koerner has been overhauling the business since 2014.
UBS’s board is considering acquisitions and other ways to grow the asset management business — which oversees about $800 billion — to ensure its long-term survival and fight off competition from U.S. rivals.
The company has been assessing the market for at least a year as dealmaking picks up across the industry, according to the people.
UBS shares extended gains on the news, rising as much as 1.9 percent in Zurich. DWS gained as much as 3.7 percent in Frankfurt.
A representative of UBS declined to comment.