BlackRock acquires Merrill's stake in Indian fund manager

BlackRock acquires Merrill Lynch's 40% stake in DSP Merrill Lynch Fund Managers as part of the global deal between the companies.
Asset management firm BlackRock will acquire 40% of Indian asset management company DSP Merrill Lynch Fund Managers. No financial details have been disclosed.

The move is in line with the realignment of Merrill LynchÆs asset management business globally. In September 2006 Merrill Lynch combined its investment management business, Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, with BlackRock in exchange for a 49% economic stake in the merged enterprise. The new entity, which was created via the merger, operates under the BlackRock brand.

DSP Merrill Lynch Fund Managers will be renamed DSP BlackRock Investment Managers, while DSP Merrill Lynch Mutual Fund will be renamed DSP BlackRock Mutual Fund.

The Indian asset management company was formed in 1996 as a joint venture between DSP Merrill Lynch and ML Investment Managers. A year earlier the two partners had formed an investment banking joint venture when Merrill Lynch paid $30 million to acquire 40% of DSP Financial Consultants, a company founded by Hemendra Kothari in 1975.

In December 2005 Merrill Lynch paid about $500 million to increase its stake in the JV to 90%, in a deal which saw it buy most of the shares held by Kothari and minority shareholders. Kothari continued to own 10% of the Indian investment bank, and as part of the deal, became the owner of a 60% stake in DSP Merrill Lynch Fund Managers. BlackRock is now buying DSP Merrill Lynch's remaining 40% stake.

On December 31, 2007, the company has assets under management of around $8.7 billion, including domestic asset management, portfolio management services and offshore advisory.

ôAs a global investment management firm, we recognise the growing prominence of India in international capital markets and the importance of working with strong local investment professionals to offer attractive products and services to Indian investors and our clients worldwide,ö says Laurence Fink, chairman and chief executive of BlackRock.

BlackRock is the largest quoted asset management company in the world, managing assets in excess of $1.3 trillion. It is headquartered in New York and has offices in 19 countries.

The deal for Merrill's stake in the funds management business in India followed more than 15 months after the global re-alignment. BlackRock had, in 2006, kept an option to buy the stake in DSPML Fund Managers. The fact that it is exercising this option now reflects how critical India is becoming to future growth for businesses across the financial services spectrum.
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