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Rating:BlackRock Wants the Limelight (and Perhaps Another Deal) Not Rated 2.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Monday, October 02, 2006

BlackRock Wants the Limelight (and Perhaps Another Deal)

by: Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief

BlackRock is moving quickly to get the word out on its just expanded fund family now that it has closed on its purchase of a majority stake in Merrill Lynch Investment Managers (MLIM). Among the first moves made by the New York City-based money manager is to start a advertisement campaign plugging the funds. At the same time, CEO Lawrence Fink is overseeing a rebranding of the firm's funds as part of an effort to court the retail market.

While the manager has been a well-known player in the institutional fixed income market, it has remained a virtual unknown to retail investors and, despite its purchase of State Street Research & Management (SSRM) from MetLife, it is also an unknown even to many advisors.

That is something that the firm undoubtedly hopes the pickup of MLIM will change.

The ad campaign kicks off tomorrow with a page in The Wall Street Journal that will promote both the virtues of the BlackRock, reports Dow Jones Newswires.

"In the last five to 10 years, there's been a growing convergence between institutional and retail investors," Fink told the news service. "In the U.S., BlackRock is not as strong with mutual funds, but the combined platforms will allow us to begin" carving out a niche, he added.

Fink may not be planning to rely just on marketing to build out his new U.S. fund family, either. One CEO of a small financial services company that is currently being shopped told the MFWire that he had no trouble arranging to meet Fink for a meal to discuss his business and that Fink was an eager negotiator.

BlackRock is also sniffing at possible fund deals, including SunLife's MFS Funds unit, say industry insiders. While not small, MFS would be easily digestible for a firm the size of BlackRock. MFS would also bring a strong product line with a growth bent and advisor focus that would nicely complement the MLIM funds it already owns. And, with the SSRM deal now done, BlackRock executives have experience with integrating an old-line Boston fund firm into their New York shop.  

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