MetLife Inc., New York, has agreed to sell its State Street Research money management unit to BlackRock Inc. for $375 million in cash and stock.[@@]

BlackRock, New York, an investment manager controlled by PNC Financial Services Group Inc., Pittsburgh, hopes to complete the deal by early 2005.

Rating analysts are saying the deal should help BlackRock’s performance without having much long-term effect on MetLife: Although State Street is a well-known company, it accounted for just 2% of MetLife’s 2003 net income.

MetLife and BlackRock still need approval from regulators and fund shareholders to complete the deal. When the deal closes, it should add at least $145 million to MetLife’s net income, MetLife estimates.

State Street Research was founded in 1924 and is one of the oldest surviving U.S. investment management companies. The company and an affiliate, SSR Realty Advisors, now manage $52 billion in assets, including $29 billion in MetLife-related accounts, according to a comment on the deal put out by ratings analysts at Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, New York.

BlackRock has $314 billion in assets under management.

Analysts at Fitch Ratings say MetLife and BlackRock took State Street’s dependence on MetLife into account when it negotiated the deal.

“BlackRock and MetLife have executed a separate agreement ensuring that MetLife retains BlackRock as an asset manager over the intermediate term, or provides additional compensation,” the Fitch analysts write in their deal comment.

MetLife and BlackRock report in their deal announcement that “certain contingent measures” could increase State Street’s purchase price as much as 25% over 5 years.

MetLife and BlackRock are emphasizing that they want to team up after they complete the State Street deal and that BlackRock wants to keep State Street’s “talented professionals” and Boston offices.

BlackRock plans to hire Richard Davis, State Street’s chief executive, and Fred Lieblich, chief executive of the State Street realty affiliate, the companies say.