Club officials have been in talks with the Latics boss in Portugal, where he is on holiday, having offered an acceptable sum to release him from his contract at the JJB Stadium.
Personal terms are not likely to be a stumbling block in the negotiations and the 48-year-old Bruce, born just outside Newcastle, could be unveiled at the Stadium of Light later this week.
The one major hurdle was overcome when Wigan chairman Dave Whelan accepted the Black Cats' offer of compensation.
Whelan was determined not to allow Bruce to walk away on the cheap, having paid Birmingham £3million in order to secure his services in November 2007.
And although the fee is not believed to have matched Whelan's valuation it was enough for him not to stand in Bruce's way of a return to his native north east - albeit Wearside and not Tyneside, where he previously turned town the manager's job.