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BlackRock cuts stake in Man Group below five percent

By Tommy Wilkes

LONDON (Reuters) - BlackRock has cut its stake in Man Group by almost half to below 5 percent, regulatory statements showed on Tuesday, just as the embattled hedge fund firm tries to reverse its fortunes.

BlackRock's selling of shares through 2012 mean it is no longer the biggest shareholder in Man. Hedge fund Odey Asset Management has meanwhile made a bold bet on a recovery in Man shares by increasing its stake to 5.15 percent.

According to earlier regulatory filings, BlackRock, the world's largest investment manager by assets, owned 9.32 percent of London-based Man back in March.

Some of the reduction in BlackRock's shareholding since then is likely to have come after Man dropped out of the MSCI global standard indexes last month.

In addition to its actively managed portfolios, BlackRock runs passive funds which track indexes and are forced to sell out of companies that are no longer members.

Both Man and BlackRock, which has in the past been linked with a bid for the hedge fund firm, declined to comment.

News of the BlackRock sales come after a terrible two years for the former FTSE 100 company. Man suffered a fifth straight month of client exits in October after poor returns from its flagship AHL fund. Its shares have halved since late last year.

In an effort to reverse its fortunes, the company has made a raft of changes: slashing costs, launching new funds and naming Jonathan Sorrell, son of WPP boss Martin Sorrell, as finance director.

Shares in Man closed down 1.95 percent at 75.9 pence on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Tommy Wilkes; Editing by Chris Vellacott and Helen Massy-Beresford)

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