Asset-management mergers and acquisitions increased by 22% worldwide last year, despite the credit crisis in the U.S., according to Freeman & Co., a New York advisory boutique.

The number of deals involving investment-management firms with more than $10 billion in assets rose from 23 in 2006 to 28 in 2007. There were only 13 such deals in 2005.

Total deal volume – measured by assets under management – was at $1.4 trillion last year, down 36% from 2006.

“In 2008 we expect to see activity driven initially by the market stresses, including divestitures and continued minority investments followed by more strategic acquisitions and cross-border deals later in the year,” Eric Weber, managing director and chief operating officer at Freeman, told the Wall Street Journal Europe.

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