BlackRock CEO says he is 'nervous' about Europe ahead of Brexit vote

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[June 01, 2016]  By Trevor Hunnicutt

NEW YORK (Reuters) - BlackRock Inc Chief Executive Laurence Fink on Tuesday said he was "nervous" about Europe ahead of a June referendum on whether Britain should remain in European Union.

Fink called for more leadership from Germany to invest in the Europe's future and said he expects the region to look "quite different" within the next decade.

"It may be better, it may be worse," he said. "I'm nervous about Europe."

In a wide-ranging interview at an investor conference organized by Deutsche Bank AG, he also said he was worried that China's use of bank and insurer balance sheets to fund inefficient state-owned enterprises could be dangerous.

But Fink said the Chinese government was among the world's best in terms of responding to its economic challenges, and he faulted developed democracies with failing to invest sufficiently in infrastructure and other investments in the future.

Fink also said he expects a larger move to index-based, "passive" investing and more "consolidation" in the asset-management industry, a reference to potential mergers-and-acquisition activity.

He said such moves could be among the less-appreciated consequences of a push by U.S. federal regulators to raise the standards of care to which retail financial advisers are held.

The U.S. Department of Labor in April introduced new rules governing the advice given on retirement-savings accounts, but Fink said such practices could eventually become a broader industry standard.

Traditional asset managers have been faced with an increasingly fierce rivalry from low-cost index funds and tough markets that have made it difficult to post competitive performance.

New York-based BlackRock is the world's largest asset manager, with $4.7 trillion under management, as of March 31. The company's products include both index funds and traditional funds curated by "active" managers.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt)

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