GLOBAL - BlackRock, the asset manager half-owned by US investment bank Merrill Lynch, today said it will remain independent even after retail house Bank of America (BoA) has picked up its 50% stake in the operation through its proposed acquisition of Merrill.

At the same time as America's fourth-largest investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed yesterday morning, Merrill Lynch - one higher up in size - sold itself to Bank of America for $50bn (€35bn).

Bobbie Collins, spokeswoman for BlackRock in New York told IPE this afternoon: "BlackRock is an independent company, and we have our own board of directors that we are governed by" adding this would remain the case once Merrill Lynch's shareholding is transferred to BoA.

"We actually look forward to working with BoA as an actual partner to BlackRock, they are one of the best commercial banks in the world," she concluded.

It is unclear at present whether BlackRock will absorb any of BoA's asset management operations.

BlackRock and Merrill Lynch announced in February 2006 they had reached an agreement to merge Merrill Lynch's investment management business, Merrill Lynch Investment Managers (MLIM), and BlackRock to create an independent asset management company.

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