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BlackRock hires Putnam's Geer for stock fund push
BOSTON (Reuters) - BlackRock Inc (BLK.N) has hired veteran fund manager Bartlett R. Geer away from Putnam Investments, part of a push to build up its actively managed equities team.
Geer, who steered Putnam's $3.5 billion Equity Income Fund (PEYAX.O) to top-tier performance over 12 years, will join BlackRock, the world's biggest money manager, in September, spokeswoman Jessica Greaney said.
Geer's hiring is aimed at improving New York-based BlackRock's somewhat struggling active equity team that Chief Executive Laurence Fink has promised to bolster. And Geer's specialty, dividend-paying stocks, is one of the few hot equity categories among investors.
Geer will join the company's "fundamental equity" team as a managing director, Greaney said. Geer could not be reached immediately for comment on Monday.
Putnam Equity Income Fund has done well measured against other large-cap value funds, according to Morningstar, finishing in the top 30 percent of the category in three of four years through 2011. Over the past 10 years, Geer's fund has outperformed 87 percent of its peers, Morningstar said.
BlackRock CEO Fink has already made some moves to revamp the company's stockpicking group, replacing chief investment officer Bob Doll, bringing in new portfolio managers, and vowing to improve performance. Fundamental equity is an area where "we still are not hitting as well as we need to," Fink told analysts on the company's quarterly conference call July 18.
Equity Income Fund was roughly tied with Putnam's Voyager Fund (PVOYX.O) at the end of July as the second-largest Putnam fund, according to Lipper, a unit of Thomson Reuters. The largest fund at Putnam, part of Canada's Power Financial Corp (PWF.TO), is the Growth & Income Fund, with $4.3 billion at July 31, according to Lipper.
Putnam, based in Boston, said Darren Jaroch had replaced Geer on the Equity Income Fund. Jaroch, who joined Putnam in 1999, has been a long-time portfolio manager of Putnam International Value Fund (PNGAX.O), which ranked in the top 7 percent in its Lipper category over the past three years.
(Reporting By Ross Kerber; editing by Aaron Pressman and Richard Chang)
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