Blackrock merger noteworthy for at least a trillion reasons Goodbye Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, Hello BlackRock. The two money managers completed their merger yesterday, and from now on will be operating as BlackRock, with more than US$1 trillion (yes, that's trillion with a T) under management. Merrill still owns 49.8 per cent of the new company, but BlackRock wants its own space in Hong Kong. Lai See hears the former Merrill team, currently camped in the ICBC Tower, will be setting up house with BlackRock in the 14-storey York House, the only Grade A office space available in Central this year. York House, formerly known as Landmark East, is set to open by the end of the year. BlackRock made its name running institutional fixed-income investments for such heavyweights as the California Public Employees' Retirement System (Calpers). But now it wants to leverage Merrill's more retail-oriented network, as well as Merrill's strength in equity investments, and become a global player. Lai See is interested to see how that will work, particularly in Hong Kong. Introducing institutional products to a retail market is always a chore, especially with our city's tough fund registration rules. Just look at the hype that retail hedge funds generated when they were first permitted, only to fade into oblivion in the past year. Good luck, BlackRock. When's the housewarming? dream on, retailers Golden Week is still a bright spot on the calendar for Hong Kong retailers, but with the growth pace of visitor arrivals slackening, the retail concept seems to be losing its lustre for investors. In a report titled 'Awake from the golden dream,' Credit Suisse analysts recount how the growth of visitors has tapered off during the past two years from the 33 to 54 per cent increases between 2001 and 2004. Still, rents and other overhead costs keep climbing, putting a squeeze on retailers and their share prices. 'When the mainland visitors have more choices in the region to travel to, they no longer jostle to come to Hong Kong,' the researchers wrote. 'The golden dream is over.' punter puts the house on galaxy Turnover of shares in Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group surged almost 2,500 per cent yesterday, after a still unidentified investor paid HK$432.9 million for shares representing 1.775 per cent of the company. The mystery buyer sneaked in minutes before the market closed and paid HK$7.40 per share - a 7.7 per cent premium to yesterday's closing price of HK$6.87 - for a block of 58.5 million shares from an anonymous seller. Shares in the firm controlled by the family of tycoon Lui Che-woo (left) have not traded so heavily since May, when the market chatter was that United States gaming titan Harrah's Entertainment was in talks to buy a stake in Galaxy. We reckon it's a coincidence, but Harrah's on Monday announced it had received a US$15 billion buyout offer from private equity firms Apollo Management and Texas Pacific Group. Good luck is contagious.