The recent marriage between Merrill Lynch's investment management unit and fixed-income manager BlackRock did more than create a $1 trillion colossus. It would also seem that it has left Morgan Stanley desperately seeking a new mate.

After the long-rumored talks between Morgan Stanley and BlackRock broke down last month - speculation is that the New York investment banker wanted a majority stake in any deal - cross-town rival Merrill swept in and basically offered BlackRock complete control of its asset management unit, as well as access to its coveted retail distribution network. The two companies' international aspirations are also similar.

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