Miami-based Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services Inc., a broker-dealer serving a network of more than 4,000 independent financial advisors across the country, is said to be mulling a sale, according to people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg News reported. The advisors at the network's four independent broker-dealers generated about $1.25 billion in revenues in 2018.

Bloomberg News said the company, which traces its roots back 140 years, is working with a financial advisor to solicit offers, said the people, asking not to be identified because the matter isn’t public. No decision has been finalized, and Ladenburg Thalmann could opt to remain independent, they said.

Representatives for the company didn’t respond to Bloomberg for its report.

Ladenburg Thalmann owns at least four independent broker-dealers (IBDs). The largest of those is Securities America, which is among the largest independent brokers in the U.S., according to its website and has some 2,500 reps generating about $800 million in annual revenues. Others include Triad Advisors with 641 reps generating $221 million in revenues in 2018, KMS with 337 reps producing $123 million last year, Securities Services Network with 339 reps and $129 million in revenues and Investacorp with 454 reps generating about $105 million  in revenues in 2018. Those figures wre reported in Financial Advisor's annual survey of IBDs.

Late in 2018, Ladenburg Thalmann's chairman and largest shareholder, biotech investor and billionaire Phillip Frost, agreed to sell most of his shares back to the parent company after he was charged with securities fraud by the SEC. At one time, Frost had owned about 33 percent of Ladenburg. On December 27, 2018, the 82-year-old Frost also agreed to settle the SEC charges and pay a $5.5 million fine without admitting or denying guilt.

Ladenburg's reported decision to explore a sale comes at a time when private equity firms have demonstrated a willingness to pay significant premiums for IBDs. In October 2018, Genstar paid a reported $1.7 billion for Cetera Financial Group, a network of six IBDs. Earlier this year, Reverence Capital bought Advisor Group, a network of four IBDs, in a transaction believed to value that group of firms at about $2.3 billion. Both Cetera and Advisor Group have about 8,000 reps.

Ladenburg also offers investment banking, insurance and asset management services.

According the its website, the company’s investment banking business in 2014 celebrated 135 years as a New York Stock Exchange member, the sixth oldest member on record.

Ladenburg Thalmann shares rose 2% to $2.05 at 2:11 p.m. in New York trading and Bloomberg put the market value at about $305 million. The shares have suffered a decline of about 28% in the past year, Bloomberg said.