Merrill Lynch has reached an agreement to purchase The Advest Group, Inc. from French insurance company AXA Financial. Though terms of the deal have yet to be published, the companies said that the transfer would be completed by the fourth quarter.

The Advest purchase will give Merrill Lynch a brokerage outfit comprised of three primary businesses, Private Client Group (PCG), Boston Advisors and Capital Markets Group. The Private Client Group provides financial advisory services in the Northeast, Midwest and Florida. The Private Client Group includes the New York and Florida-based Lebenthal retail municipal fixed income business.

Boston Advisors manages $3 billion in balanced, equity and fixed income portfolios for individuals and institutional investors. Capital Markets Group has a middle-markets and institutional capital markets division including equity, taxable fixed income and municipal capital markets businesses.

We are extremely pleased and look forward to welcoming the Advest financial professionals to Merrill Lynch. As the industry leader in wealth management, we are committed to growing our private client business and this acquisition is another example of our execution of that strategy, said Robert McCann, vice chairman and president of Merrill Lynch’s Global Private Client Group.