Marsh & McLennan Cos.' recent announcement that it isn't planning to deal away its Putnam Investments subsidiary hasn't killed speculation that the firms could part company in a year or two.
On June 10, New York-based Marsh & McLennan executives announced they have "no plans to sell or spin off" subsidiaries such as Putnam, a mere three weeks after MMC Chairman Michael G. Cherkasky told CNBC that his company would conduct a "thoughtful" strategic review to see which subsidiaries it should keep. Prior to that interview, Mr. Cherkasky had adamantly rejected suggestions MMC might deal away any of its major subsidiaries.
That rapid about-face left market watchers scratching their heads. MMC's zig-zag — with Mr. Cherkasky "opening the window" on a possible sale and then quickly opting for the status quo — doesn't make a lot of sense, said one executive at a pension fund that employs Putnam, who declined to be named.
Making the latest turn of events even more awkward, in recent comments to the press, Putnam CEO Charles "Ed" Haldeman had suggested he would welcome a change that would leave his Boston-based money management firm independent.
In a recent interview with InvestmentNews, a sister publication of Pensions & Investments, the Putnam CEO said if MMC's strategic review resulted in no change, the effect would be neutral, but "there's also the chance that there could be an independent Putnam or we could merge with somebody that's good, and that would be energizing."
A number of market players say Mr. Haldeman has made it clear within Putnam that he prefers independence.
Mr. Haldeman declined to comment for this article, and MMC spokeswoman Barbara Perlmutter said Mr. Cherkasky wouldn't discuss the results of the company's just-completed strategic review.