LONDON/ZURICH, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Barclays is in the early stages of considering a bid for Societe Generale's UK private bank, in an effort to expand its business targeting wealthy individuals, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

SocGen, advised by Rothschild & Co, has begun inviting bidders to take part in an auction for its Kleinwort Hambros unit, two of the people said.

The French group is also readying a sale of its private banking operations in Switzerland as it looks to shed businesses in a strategy revamp, they said.

London-based Kleinwort Hambros, which in 2022 had more than 12 billion pounds ($15 billion) in assets under management, could be worth up to 700 million pounds in a sale, one of the people estimated.

Among those invited to bid for the unit are Lloyds Banking Group, as well as wealth managers Rathbones and Raymond James, two of the people and a fourth one said.

Rathbones has decided not to participate in the process, a person familiar with its thinking said.

Deliberations remain at a preliminary stage, and there is no certainty that a transaction will materialise, sources cautioned.

Barclays and SocGen both declined to comment.

Barclays' interest in SocGen's British private bank comes on the heels of its acquisition of Tesco's banking operations, as part of efforts to diversify away from volatile investment banking income.

The British bank, led by CEO C.S. Venkatakrishnan, is set to announce a new group strategy on Feb. 20 alongside its full-year results.

($1 = 0.7969 pounds) (Reporting by Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro, Andres Gonzalez and Oliver Hirt; Additional reporting by Iain Withers, Lawrence White and Mathieu Rosemain; editing by Anousha Sakoui and Jason Neely)