Barclays PLC is looking to sell its exchange-traded-fund business to raise cash, according to published reports.

The British bank has asked J.P. Morgan Cazenove to shop its iShares unit-a move designed to avoid turning to the government for help, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The bank is suffering from a capital shortage and is looking to solve the problem independent of the government by selling assets or issuing shares, according to the newspaper.

The value of iShares has been placed at about $5 billion by analysts, according to the newspaper, adding that the company is considering a price tag as high as $5.6 billion.

The ETF unit is one of the bright spots of the company, according to the Wall Street Journal, taking in $56.3 billion in new assets in 2008. The unit has about $254.7 billion in total assets.