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Thursday, December 16, 2004

Many are Leaving SSRM in Wake of Sale

News summary by MFWire's editors

Few State Street Research & Management executives are surviving the transition to BlackRock, according to multiple published reports. In August BlackRock agreed to purchase the Boston-based asset managed from MetLife for $375 million. The deal has not yet closed but BlackRock is already making wholesale changes. In addition, most of the SSRM fund family are expected to be absorbed into BlackRock products.

This week Pensions & Investments reported that 31 percent of SSRM's employees will be laid off when the deal is complete at the end of January. The paper reports that 116 of the 371 SSRM employees will not be given employment offers. Offers were made to 175 SSRM workers.

Most of those workers who are being let go are expected to leave in the 14 days after the deal closes on January 31. Others will be let go on April 30.

Among those staying will be Richard S. Davis, chief executive officer and president. Davis told the publication that he will head "significant presence in Boston" after the deal closes and that he looks forward to building BlackRock's Boston presence.

Not everyone is staying, though. The biggest name to depart may be Kim Goodwin, chief investment officer for equities, who joined SSRM from American Century. The Boston Globe reported Thursday that Goodwin and at least two other key SSRM executives -- Mark Marinella, chief of fixed income and Kevin Wilkins, head of distribution -- turned down offers and will leave the firm in January.

In addition, nearly all of SSRMís senior marketing and distribution people who report to Wilkins are being laid off.

Also expected to leave at that time are the bulk of the SSRM portfolio management team. The firm employs 48 equity and 41 fixed income investment professionals. On the equity side Paul Haagensen, manager of the Aurora fund and John T. Wilson, who manages Investment Trust, will both leave, according to the Globe. P&I adds that Tucker Walsh and Andrew Morey, managers of the Emerging Growth Fund will also not stay. Two members of the fixed income team -- Brett Wander and Dan Strelow -- will also be leaving in January, according to P&I.

Staying on is Ron DíVari, the managing director of fixed-income research. D'Vari will relocate to New York City and retain at least five members of his team. On the equity side Jeffrey Lindsey, Anthony F. Forcione, Eileen M. Leary, Edward Dowd, Daniel J. Rice III, Linda Zhang and Denis J. Walsh III are all expected to stay.

The Globe adds that "virtually all" of Boston-based SSRM's analysts and three-fifths of its equity trading desk will be let go. SSRM manages $52 billion in assets.

BlackRock is also expected to retain the Morristown, New Jersey-based SSR Realty Advisors Inc. That subsidiary employs 175 workers focused on equity real estate investment. All of those employees are believed to have been given offers.  

Edited by: Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief

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