GLOBAL - Barclays is to sell its nearly 20% stake in asset manager BlackRock, with the bank estimating its value as $6.1bn (€4.3bn).

The bank said Barclays Capital, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Merrill Lynch would act as joint bookrunners for the disposal - with BlackRock agreeing to a share buyback of $1bn on successful completion of the offering.

In a statement, Barclays said its 19.6% ownership of the asset manager consisted of common stock and series B convertible preferred stock, which would become common stock upon sale.

It added that it had written down the value of its stake to £3.4bn (€3.9bn) in September last year, with subsequent increases now bringing the value to £3.8bn.

“A further statement will be issued following pricing of the offering,” the bank said, noting that BlackRock had filed the required prospectus supplement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission this morning.

In other news, Robeco Group’s net profits in the first quarter of 2012 amounted to €64m, a 16% growth on last year’s €55m.

Following net cash inflows of €15bn in the quarter, Robeco’s assets under management increased to €177bn.

This compares with an overall annual growth of €7.6bn for the entire 2011.

Assets under management at the end of 2011 stood at €150bn.

Chief executive Roderick Munsters said: “In 2010, Robeco set out a five-year strategy aimed at helping our clients achieve their investment ambitions and increasing profitability, by focusing on cost-efficient growth.

“Two years into the plan, we are confident of achieving our asset-growth targets while we continued to improve efficiency, with the implementation of measures to reduce IT and operations expenses.

“We are on track to achieve the ambitions defined in our 2010-14 strategy. Robeco is working closely with Rabobank on the strategic review of the business.”

It was predominantly institutional clients that contributed to the strong inflows. Institutional assets under management (AUM) increased to 51% of the total AUM at the end of the quarter, compared with 45% at the end of the first quarter in 2011.

More than 80% of investment strategies outperformed their benchmarks in the first quarter. In addition, total average excess return amounted to 1.67% gross of fees on all capabilities in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, Man Group has agreed to the acquisition of hedge fund research group FRM Holdings, with the firm to be integrated with its existing multi-manager business.

FRM will double Man’s multi-manager business to $18bn in size, with Man opting to retain FRM’s branding upon successful completion of the merger, with former FRM managing director Luke Ellis staying as chief executive of the new business.

Peter Clarke, chief executive at Man, said: “Luke Ellis’s previous role as managing director of FRM will assist rapid and efficient integration and delivery of the benefits of the combination to investors, globally.”

He also cited the further strengthening of Man’s relationship with Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank through a long-term strategic partnership in Japan, as the bank currently advises a “significant” number of FRM’s current clients.

Blaine Tomlinson, current chief executive at FRM, who will stay on as a non-executive chairman within the new multi-manager group, added: “Our investors will benefit from combined resources, including Man’s substantial investment in managed accounts and sophisticated analytics, knowing that the robust investment philosophy that underpinned their allocations to FRM will remain at the heart of the integrated business.”

The companies said no consideration would be paid up front, with a maximum of $83m of payments in cash, net of total assets, paid out over a three-year period.

Lastly, Frédéric Lasserre and Christophe Cordonnier - both formerly managing directors within Société Générale’s commodities markets division, are to leave the bank to launch a hedge fund.

According to a statement, Lasserre and Cordonnier will oversee the launch of Belaco Capital from Paris as they felt there was unsatisfied demand for absolute return strategies on commodities.

The multi-commodity discretionary hedge fund is expected to launch in the fourth quarter of the year.

They will be joined by François Beuzelin, himself a veteran of Société Générale - spending a decade in metals trading before moving to a commodity fund two years ago.