In a reversal from its previous position that it would not sell its subsidiary Putnam Investments, Marsh & McLennan is now exploring how much it could get from such a sale.

"Over the last few months there have been repeated inquiries from parties interested in either acquiring or partnering with Putnam," MMC President and Chief Executive Officer Michael G. Cherkasky said in a statement. "Therefore, in consultation with MMC's board, I decided it was in the interest of our shareholders to do a market check to determine the value others would put on Putnam. We have just commenced this process and have not decided to take any specific action in regard to Putnam at this time."

Putnam has continued to struggle with outflows since the beginning of the bear market, and, more pronouncedly, since it was first implicated in the market-timing scandal. THe company has suffered $106 billion in outflows since 2001, dropping from fourth-largest fund company in the nation to 12th today.

Nonetheless, Putnam's problems mirror those at other mid-size firms with mediocre performance and a smaller distribution channel than leading mutual fund companies, Ben Phillips, a managing director at Putnam Lovell, told The Boston Globe.

"Now it's increasingly hard to compete where the stock markets aren't giving you much of a tailwind," Phillips said. "All broker-sold firms are going through the exercise of considering what they're good at."

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