GLOBAL - Ralph Schlosstein, president and co-founder of BlackRock has announced he will leave the company to "pursue other entrepreneurial interests".

BlackRock, the $1.2trn American investment manager which recently merged with Merrill Lynch Investment Managers (MLIM), yesterday said Schlosstein had notified the board of his intent to step down as president and a director.

BlackRock announced in a news release the firm's board of directors had unanimously appointed Robert Kapito, currently director and vice chairman and head of portfolio management, as president with immediate effect.

It is believed Schlosstein, who led the State Street Research and MLIM integrations, wants to set up his own asset management firm specialising in alternative investment strategies.

Several media reports this morning suggested Schlosstein plans to raise capital to buy small investment firms or part firms focusing on real estate, private-equity, venture capital, distressed debt and hedge funds.

"Schlosstein will remain with the firm as an adviser until early 2008, helping to ensure an effective transition," BlackRock said.

Laurence Fink, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) at BlackRock commented: "Ralph approached me earlier this year to consider the possibility of pursuing outside entrepreneurial interests at some point in the future."

He stressed BlackRock is "well-positioned" for the transition.