US – US investment management firm BlackRock is to buy State Street Research, which is not related to its Boston neighbour State Street Corp., from MetLife for 375 million dollars (310 million euros) in cash and stock.

The transaction will see BlackRock’s 314 billion dollars in assets under management combine with State Street Research’s 52 billion dollars in AUM.

“With 366 billion dollars of assets under management, the combined company would be one of the 20 largest asset managers in the world,” the two firms said in a statement.

The merged entity will have more than 325 billion dollars in institutional assets under management. BlackRock can count the Norwegian Petroleum Fund among its European institutional clients - although it has lost mandates in the last year at Belgacom and Ireland’s National Treasury Management Agency.

New York-based BlackRock - majority owned by Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services Group - and insurer MetLife said they had a “definitive agreement” under which BlackRock would buy SSRM Holdings Inc., the holding company of State Street Research & Management Co. and SSR Realty Advisors Inc.

The acquisition would boost BlackRock's investment management platform with “additional US equity, alternative investment and real estate equity management capabilities”.

SSRM CEO Richard Davis would join BlackRock’s management team to “ensure a smooth integration of the two firms and to lead BlackRock's expanded efforts in Boston”. And SSR Realty Advisors’ CEO Fred Lieblich is expected to continue to lead the real estate equity business of the combined firm.

BlackRock chairman and chief executive Laurence Fink said the two firms shared “a similar culture defined by a commitment to excellence, integrity and teamwork”.

The deal is expected to close in early 2005 pending regulatory and fund shareholder approval and is expected to be accretive to BlackRock's earnings in 2005.

In April State Street Research’s general counsel Frank McNamara joined Putnam Investments in the same role, replacing William Woolverton.