Banking

Babson Capital combining with other units, staying in Charlotte

MassMutual Financial Group said Wednesday that its Babson Capital Management unit is combining with three other subsidiaries, but will remain headquartered in Charlotte under Babson CEO Tom Finke. Here Finke speaks in at the 2014 groundbreaking for a new uptown tower anchored by Babson.
MassMutual Financial Group said Wednesday that its Babson Capital Management unit is combining with three other subsidiaries, but will remain headquartered in Charlotte under Babson CEO Tom Finke. Here Finke speaks in at the 2014 groundbreaking for a new uptown tower anchored by Babson. dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

MassMutual Financial Group’s Babson Capital Management unit is combining with three other asset management subsidiaries, but will remain headquartered in Charlotte under Babson CEO Tom Finke.

Babson will join together with Baring Asset Management Limited, Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers and Wood Creek Capital Management under the Barings brand.

The combined investment management firm will have more than $260 billion of assets under management, offices in 20 countries and more than 1,700 employees. David Brennan, CEO of Baring Asset Management, will retire as planned this summer.

In an interview Wednesday, Finke said the move will allow the combined firm to serve global institutional clients such as pension funds and insurance companies under one name, offering a wide variety of investment products. The company can also invest in just one brand, instead of four.

“There is a trend toward institutional investors wanting to work with fewer managers with multiple capabilities,” said Finke, before heading to London and Asia for a series of employee meetings.

Babson Capital has around 250 people in Charlotte, a number that could grow to as many as 400 by the time the firm moves into a new headquarters building under construction on South Tryon Street, Finke said. The firm is looking to move into the 25-story tower in September 2017, he said.

“For Charlotte, this is great that this will be our global headquarters,” he said. “It reflects that Charlotte has evolved beyond just two big banks.”

The announcement doesn’t necessarily mean new jobs in Charlotte, he said, because the firm’s focus is on being in the locations around the world where its clients operate. Babson gained its Charlotte presence in 2002 when it bought a unit led by Finke from First Union, the Charlotte bank that is now part of Wells Fargo.

Barings bank was founded more than 250 years ago in London as a firm for merchants and merchant bankers. One of its historic transactions was the financing of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the U.S. in size.

Springfield, Mass.-based MassMutual bought the activities of Baring Asset Management from ING Group in 2004. That was nearly a decade after the Dutch bank and insurer purchased the remnants of the bankrupt British bank, following a trading scandal in 1995.

“The brand today really represents the growth of their asset management company over the years,” Finke said.

One reason to select the Baring Asset Management name was its large presence in Asia, said Finke. “That is one of the fastest growing markets in terms of investors and investor capital,” he said.

The firm expects to roll out the new brand later this year, subject to regulatory approval, he said.

Rick Rothacker: 704-358-5170, @rickrothacker

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