BlackRock: Global dominator or hulking leviathan?

Following the acquisition of BGI, BlackRock will definitely be the biggest, but will it be the best?

Eric Jacobson 12 November, 2009 | 2:49PM
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We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile. – The Borg, Star Trek: First Contact

Employees of the former State Street Research and Merrill Lynch Investment Management organisations probably feared as much when they first heard their firms were to be acquired by BlackRock (in 2004 and 2006, respectively), a place known for its tightly run institutional bond management and no-nonsense CEO, Larry Fink. In fact, that seems to be almost exactly what they got. To hear members of the team tell it--over and over again--the model of "One BlackRock" is no joke.

If those folks are to be believed, though, the next crew destined for assimilation from Barclays Global Investors should keep their heads up (and not just because many stand to be enriched by selling their 11% stake in BGI as part of the deal). So-called "legacy MLIM" employees marvel at just how efficient, functional, and communicative the organisation is relative to what they had grown used to in their prior work lives. Dik Blewitt came to BlackRock along with early-2009 acquisition R3, but he's been in the industry for more than 20 years and says BlackRock is "the smallest huge place I've worked in my entire life."

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Eric Jacobson  is director of fixed-income research with Morningstar.

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