The merger of BlackRock and Merrill Lynch has created a new global investment player - Hedgeweek unravels the detail and highlights the key facts.
BlackRock, Inc. and Merrill Lynch unveiled an agreement on Wednesday to merge Merrill Lynch's investment management business, Merrill Lynch Investment Managers (MUM), and BlackRock to create a new independent company trading under the BlackRock name, that will be one of the world's largest asset management firms with nearly USD 1 trillion in assets under management.
Combined AUM of new BlackRock
On a combined basis as of December 31, 2005, the proposed company, which will trade under the BlackRock name, managed USD 286 billion in equity/balanced, USD 415 billion in fixed income, USD 208 billion in liquidity, USD 38 billion in alternative and real estate investments, and USD 44 billion in retail separately managed accounts.
BlackRock is a powerful player in its own right. BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE:BLK) last month reported net income for the quarter ended December 31, 2005 of USD 72.9 million, or USD 1.09 per diluted share, compared to net income of USD 49.8 million, or USD 0.75 per diluted share, earned in the fourth quarter of 2004. Third quarter 2005 net income was USD 61.1 million, or USD 0.92 per diluted share. Net income for the year ended December 31, 2005 was USD 233.9 million, or USD 3.50 per diluted share, compared to net income of USD 143.1 million, or USD 2.17 per diluted share, earned during 2004.
Adjusted earnings per share increased to USD 1.21 and USD 4.03 for the fourth quarter and full fiscal year ended December 31, 2005, compared to USD 0.72 and USD 2.69 for the fourth quarter and full fiscal year 2004, respectively, and USD 1.03 for third quarter 2005.
Fourth quarter 2005 earnings reflect performance fees of USD 87.2 million and approximately USD 8.0 million of expense associated with the launch of a new closed-end fund.
BlackRock's assets under management (AUM) rose USD 24.8 billion, or 5.8 per cent, during the quarter to USD 452.7 billion at December 31, 2005. Net new business totaled USD 23.7 billion during the quarter, including USD 14.3 billion in long-dated products and USD 9.4 billion in cash management portfolios. For the full year, BlackRock recorded USD 50.2 billion of net new business, with favorable flows in all asset classes and from all client channels.
Net inflows were balanced geographically, with USD 27.1 billion of net new business from US clients and USD 23.1 billion from non-U.S. investors. In addition, it added 32 net new assignments in BlackRock Solutions and related products during the year, including 10 net new assignments in the fourth quarter, which contributed to a 38.5% increase in revenues from 2004.
BlackRock's client/service profile
Since its inception in 1988, BlackRock has been independently managed by its Management Committee, whose members represent all operating areas of the firm. BlackRock has focused on a cross-disciplinary team approach where clients benefit from the pooled expertise of the firm's resources: its investment and risk management professionals and proprietarily-developed analytical tools.
BlackRock's client base includes corporate, public, and Taft-Hartley pension plans, insurance companies, mutual funds, endowments, foundations, nuclear decommissioning trusts, corporations, banks, and individuals worldwide.
On January 31, 2005, BlackRock acquired SSRM Holdings Inc., the holding company of State Street Research and Management and State Street Realty. The transaction enhances BlackRock's investment management platform with additional US equity, alternative investment, and real estate equity management capabilities, expanding the scale and scope of BlackRock's open-end mutual funds and distribution capabilities.
The new, enlarged BlackRock - PNC Financial retains stake
"Joining forces with Merrill Lynch Investment Managers represents a truly transformational opportunity - the combined company will have broad investment and risk management capabilities and extraordinary global scale that will enhance our collective ability to serve individual and institutional investors worldwide," said BlackRock founder and CEO Larry Fink. "MUM and BlackRock are highly complementary, in terms of both expertise and culture. Together, we will benefit from a singular focus on investment and risk management, as well as a deep pool of talented professionals who share a commitment to teamwork, excellence and integrity. We will also benefit from an ongoing strategic partnership with Merrill Lynch as we work together to serve our shared clients. Lastly, we will move quickly to establish a robust operating platform that leverages our BlackRock Solutions capabilities and ensures a seamless transition for BlackRock and MUM clients."
As a result of the transaction, The PNC Financial Services Group,Inc. (NYSE:PNC) - which bought BlackRock in 1995 and currently owns 70% of the company - will maintain a 34% share in the combined company, and approximately 17% will be held by employees and public shareholders.
Merrill Lynch's stake will go to 49.8%, and it will have a 45% voting interest in the combined company. The new company will operate under the BlackRock name and be governed by a board of directors with a majority of independent members.
Global multi-channel distribution
The combined company will offer a full range of equity, fixed income, cash management and alternative investment products with strong representation in both retail and institutional channels, in the US and in non-U.S. markets. It will have over 4,500 employees in 18 countries and a major presence in most key markets, including the US, the UK, Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Europe.
Headquartered in New York, BlackRock maintains offices in Boston, Chicago, Edinburgh, Hong Kong, Munich, New Jersey, San Francisco, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, and Wilmington, and is opening a new office in London to better serve its clients.
Merrill Lynch already has a global footprint and offices in London with over 700 employees, and Europe will become a key focus for the combined group.
New BlackRock to build scale, scope and product range
The new, enlarged BlackRock will provide a wide range of investments, including significant offerings in every major asset class, encompassing equity, fixed income, liquidity, and alternatives.
Capabilities will include US and non-US products in each asset class, including products created in investment centers in the US, London, Edinburgh, Tokyo, and Australia. In order to best serve clients' needs, various products will be available as separate accounts, open-end funds and closed-end funds.
BlackRock and MUM complement each other in distribution platforms. MUM's significant retail presence in the US and its strong reputation in Europe and Asia match well with BlackRock's global institutional client base. MUM has a strong mutual fund platform with 154 mutual funds globally. In the US, MUM manages 108 open and closed end stock and bond funds, 42 of which are rated 4-or 5- star by Morningstar. These will join with BlackRock' s group of more than 100 funds to give investors a broad array of choices in equity, fixed income and liquidity funds.
BlackRock will also continue to provide risk management and advisory services to a wide variety of major institutional clients through BlackRock Solutions.
Larry Fink to lead new BlackRock
The transaction, which has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies, is expected to close in the third quarter of 2006. To ensure continuity of management and levels of service to clients of both companies, Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, will serve as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the combined company, and Ralph L. Schlosstein will continue to serve as President and a Director.
Robert (Bob) C. Doll, President and Chief Investment Officer of MUM, will become a Vice Chairman, CIO of Global Equities, and Chairman of the Private Client Operating Committee. Doll and Robert S. Kapito, Vice Chairman and Head of Portfolio Management of BlackRock, are both expected to become members of the combined company's Board of Directors, subject to the Board's approval.
"We have a team of outstanding investment management professionals who look forward to becoming partners with the BlackRock team," said Bob Doll. "Both firms have very similar cultures, emphasizing teamwork, integrity, operational excellence and superior client service as they seek strong investment returns. We will build one company that reflects the best of both organizations. The combined company will leverage each organization's strong momentum and will be well positioned to expand its products and distribution capabilities."
Stan O'Neal, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Merrill Lynch, and Gregory J. Fleming, President, Global Markets & Investment Banking, Merrill Lynch, are expected to serve as Merrill's designees on the Board.
"Having an expanded presence in the asset management business has been a strategic priority for Merrill Lynch for some time," said Stan O'Neal. "By merging MUM with BlackRock, Merrill Lynch will realize a major objective - the transformation of our asset management unit into a major component of what we believe will be one of the world's preeminent, diversified global money management organizations. We will gain what amounts to a half-interest in a firm twice the size of our unit, with enhanced growth prospects, both organically and through potential acquisitions, with its own publicly traded stock. Additionally, this transaction frees up significant capital for Merrill Lynch, which we can deploy to further enhance shareholder value."
Terms of the Transaction
The transaction is subject to various regulatory approvals, client consents, approval by BlackRock shareholders and customary conditions. Under the tenns of the agreement, Merrill Lynch will have certain restrictions on the sale or acquisition of shares in the new BlackRock, but will have the right to maintain its ownership percentage in the event of BlackRock' s issuance of additional shares in the future.
The transaction will result in a gain to Merrill Lynch, net of certain transaction-related expenses, based on the value of the BlackRock stock received at closing. Based on BlackRock's closing price on February 14, the net after-tax gain would amount to approximately USD 1.1 billion. Additionally, Merrill Lynch expects that the elimination of goodwill associated with the MLIM segment will free up a significant amount of equity capital to be redeployed into growth initiatives or share repurchases.
Following closing, Merrill Lynch expects to reflect its investment in the stock of the combined company in its financial statements using the equity method of accounting, and will record its proportionate share of the new BlackRock's net earnings as a component of net revenues.
In 2007, Merrill Lynch expects the transaction to be slightly dilutive to its earnings and earnings per share. In 2008, once transaction synergies are fully realized, Merrill Lynch expects the transaction to be neutral to its earnings and earnings per share assuming no redeployment of equity capital freed up by the transaction, and accretive assuming redeployment of capital.
In connection with the transaction, Citigroup Corporate and Investment Banking acted as exclusive financial advisor and Skadden Arps provided legal counsel to BlackRock.