MassMutual merger revives Barings brand

US life insurance company merges its four asset management businesses into one investment company
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MassMutual, the US life insurance company, has completed the merger of its four asset management businesses to create a $275bn investment company, which will carry the historic 254-year-old Barings name.

The merger, which Tom Finke, the chief executive and chairman of the new entity, said would result in a small number of job cuts, will lead to the group vacating its three offices in London and moving staff into one building. The company will also group its employees in Hong Kong into one building.

The four businesses to be merged are Babson Capital Management, the bond specialist, Wood Creek Capital Management, the private equity house, Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers and Baring Asset Management.

The company names and logos of the four units will disappear from today to become Barings, a name that first appeared as a bank in London in 1762 and much later became synonymous with Nick Leeson, the former derivatives broker whose fraudulent trading triggered its collapse in 1995.

Dutch bank ING bought Barings, including its asset management operations, in 1995 for the nominal sum of £1. Baring Asset Management as well as the right to use the Barings name was sold to MassMutual in 2005.

Insiders said senior management came under pressure to drop the Barings name but decided it still carried a lot of weight with clients.

Mr Finke, who was formerly the chief executive of Babson, said: “Barings is an iconic brand that has been around for a very long time. The name has great reach, particularly in Asia. It is a new chapter for the Barings name, which has moved on a long way from the problems it faced in the past.”

The chief executive said the decision to combine the four businesses was based on findings that showed large investors, including pension funds and sovereign wealth funds, wanted to work with fewer asset managers.

Russ Morrison, former vice-chairman of Babson, will become president of the new group, while Scott Brown, the former chief executive of Cornerstone, will lead the company’s property business. Anthony Sciacca becomes head of private equity operations.

Baring Asset Management’s chairman and chief executive, David Brennan, retired in the summer.

The new group will employ 1,700 people across 41 offices in 17 countries. More than 600 of those are classed as investment professionals, 450 as analysts and 35 traders.

“Some staff cuts will have to be made but that was not the point at all of this merger,” said Mr Finke.

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