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Marsh & McLennan Ends Noisy Spin-Off Speculation

Insurance giant Marsh & McLennan quieted rumors that it was planning to spin off one of its major business units, including fund manager Putnam Investments.

The New York-based company admitted through a press release that a strategic review of its holdings had been launched in March and concluded on June 10. Rumors surfaced earlier this month that it was shopping Putnam, or perhaps another business, like reinsurance broker Carpenter, Kroll investigative firm, Mercer Human Resource Consulting or Mercer Specialty Consulting unit.

"The focus of MMC is to operate these businesses to provide superior service and advise to clients and to deliver value to its shareholders," said Michael G. Cherkasky, president and CEO of Marsh, in a statement. "The company has no plans to sell or spin off any of these businesses." The world's largest insurance broker, Marsh is still licking its wounds from a recent bid-rigging scandal. In January, it agreed to pay an $850 million fine to settle the allegations. It has suffered additional losses through employee departures and customers that have switched to rivals. One reason Putnam was considered a potential spin-off is the fact that it, too, is coming off allegations of impropriety. Earlier this year, the asset manager settled a $150 million fine with federal regulators over improper trading in its mutual funds and was hit more recently with a $40 million penalty for not disclosing revenue-sharing agreements.

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