CNBC's Charles Gasparino
is telling TV watchers that Merrill Lynch
is "actively" weighing the sale of its 49 percent stake in BlackRock
. The television reporter added that inside Merrill, the "first order" of business is to sell its BlackRock stake to raise money (see clip on CNBC.com
Gasparino did not provide any sources for his report on Monday, although he told the MFWire that he had sources from both firms as the basis for his information. The FT.com
had picked up the story on Saturday, reporting that Thain is looking for a decision on a deal in the next fortnight, or two weeks.
Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain
raised the possibility of a sale of the firm's stake in BlackRock at a Deutsche Bank investors conference last week. Merrill would need approval from BlackRock's board for a sale of its stock this year.
"I don't think Larry [Fink] will stand in the way of Merrill trying to raise money. I think at some price they will agree," guessed Gasparino on air during a Monday morning CNBC Squawk Box
He posits that the sale of the BlackRock stake will be simpler than selling a stake in the privately-held Bloomberg
. Gasparino told viewers that Bloomberg and Merrill executives had early talks on a sale of the Bloomberg stake, but that Bloomberg offered a low-ball number in the $3 billion range.
Bloomberg's low offer could increase the likelihood that Thain turns to a sale of the BlackRock stake to raise cash, said the CNBC reporter.
"BlackRock is a public company and we know that their 49 percent stake is worth roughly $10 billion. I think if they want to unwind it, Larry will do it."
Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief
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