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MONEY MANAGEMENT

BlackRock’s assets surge 5% on another strong quarter of passive inflows

BlackRock (BLK) reported $5.42 trillion in assets under management as of March 31, up 5% from three months earlier and up 14% from a year earlier, the firm said in its earnings statement released Wednesday.

Net inflows to the firm's long-term strategies were $80.34 billion in the quarter, compared to net inflows of $87.8 billion in the fourth quarter and net inflows of $36.1 billion in the year earlier quarter. The inflows were driven by $44.06 billion going to equities, $33.37 billion to fixed income, $1.55 billion to multiasset strategies and $1.36 billion to alternatives.

BlackRock's institutional business experienced long-term net inflows of $11.2 billion for the first quarter, compared to net inflows of $40.9 billion for the fourth quarter and net inflows of $12.2 billion for the first quarter of 2016. Assets in BlackRock's institutional business were $3.05 trillion as of March 31, up 4.8% from Dec. 31 and up 10.5% from March 31, 2016.

BlackRock's actively managed institutional strategies saw net outflows of $1 billion during the quarter, while passive strategies saw net inflows of $12.25 billion.

BlackRock's iShares exchange-traded fund business saw long-term net inflows of $64.5 billion in the first quarter, compared to net inflows of $49.3 billion in the fourth quarter and net inflows of $24.3 billion in the year-earlier quarter. iShares assets totaled $1.41 trillion as of March 31, up 9.3% from Dec. 31 and up 24.8% from March 31, 2016.

BlackRock's global retail business saw long-term net inflows of $4.6 billion, vs. net outflows of $2.4 billion in the prior quarter and $359 million of net outflows in the quarter ended March 31, 2016.

“We're using our scale to build … technology to optimize investment performance and outcomes for our clients,” said Chairman and CEO Laurence D. Fink during the firm's earnings call. “And we're using our scale to make … acquisitions that further enhances our platform, our technology capabilities, and our geographic reach.”

Mr. Fink emphasized the importance of technology for the firm. “While technology has always been a key differentiator for BlackRock, it is more essential to our business than ever before,” he said.

Mr. Fink added that BlackRock plans to make some acquisitions “to further add opportunities that we have in technology.” He did not disclose details.

The firm's revenue was $2.82 billion in the first quarter, down 2% from the previous quarter but up 8% from the first quarter of 2016. Net income was $862 million, up 1% from the prior quarter and up 31% from the same period a year ago.