Wednesday, February 15, 2006

BlackRock to gain control of Merrill asset arm

NEW YORK - BlackRock Inc. is taking control of the asset management arm of Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. in a deal announced on Wednesday that will create one of the world's biggest money managers with $1 trillion in assets. In the latest effort by an investment bank to shed its asset management arm, Merrill Lynch (MER.N: Quote, Profile, Research) will swap its Merrill Lynch Investment Managers (MLIM) for a 49.8 percent stake in the combined BlackRock company. BlackRock (BLK.N: Quote, Profile, Research) shares rose nearly 9 percent, while Merrill edged up about 0.5 percent in early trading on news of the deal that had been rumored for three days. "The initial reports of Merrill buying the whole of BlackRock were a little nerve-wracking, but I like the way this deal looks," said Ralph Cole, portfolio manager at Ferguson Wellman Capital Management, which owns Merrill shares.

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