Morgan Stanley announced yesterday that it intends to acquire Barra Inc., a stock and bond index analysis specialist, in a cash transaction valued at $816.4 billion.

Morgan Stanley disclosed that it agreed acquire Barra for $41 per share at a 9% premium above its Monday closing price. The wirehouse said the acquisition will supply its customers with new risk analysis capabilities and additional resources to bulk up its Morgan Stanley Capital International division, which is known for providing benchmarking services to more than 2,000 financial services worldwide with more than $3 trillion of assets. Wall Street analysts praised the move as a decisive step to buttress Morgan Stanley’s peripheral asset management capabilities and preserve its dominant grasp on the benchmarking industry.

"The combination of MSCI’s deep understanding of indices across asset classes and Barra’s industry-leading risk management analytics will provide a powerful platform for enhancing our clients' investment processes within and across asset classes," said Henry Fernandez, president and CEO of MSCI, in a statement.

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