UPDATE 1-BlackRock to lay off nearly 300 employees - memo
NEW YORK, March 18 (Reuters) - BlackRock Inc, the world's largest money manager, will lay off nearly 300 employees, or about 3 percent of its workforce, according to an internal memo obtained by Reuters.
BlackRock President Rob Kapito told employees on Monday that despite the layoffs the firm, which oversees almost $4 trillion, would continue hiring and expected to end 2013 with more employees than it currently had.
"These moves will give high potential employees greater responsibility and additional career opportunities, and will make us a more agile organization better positioned to respond to changing client and market needs," Kapito said in the memo.
Shares of BlackRock have gained almost 50 percent in the past three months. Investors have been pouring into BlackRock stock and bond funds, especially its iShares lines of exchange-traded funds, helping push its adjusted profit margin over 40 percent.
The layoffs follow BlackRock's reorganization, started last year, to refocus the New York-based firm away from growing through large acquisitions and more by attracting new clients. BlackRock doubled its assets through the 2009 acquisition of the investment unit of London bank Barclays Plc but Kapito and Chief Executive Laurence Fink have said this year that the firm is done making major purchases.
BlackRock employed 10,500 people at the end of 2012, growing by more than 1,500 people since the start of 2010. Some of the employees being laid off will leave now, while others will depart over the next few weeks and months, the memo said.
BlackRock established a new firm architecture last year to "increase responsibility and accountability and leverage more of our most talented leaders," Kapito said in the memo.
A BlackRock spokesman said the departures would not affect executive or operating-committee level employees.
"Even with the steps we are taking to reshape the organization, the firm continues to hire in key areas and anticipates having more employees at year-end then we did at the start of the year," he said in an email to Reuters.