First Republic Bank in San Francisco has bought Gradifi, a two-year old firm that works with small and large companies to help their employees pay down student debt.

The $68 billion-asset bank said in a news release Monday that Gradifi will continue to operate at its Boston headquarters under the same brand name. Founder Tim DeMello will remain the company's chief executive, "with extended employment contracts in place for him and several other senior management members," according to the bank.

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