By Dawn Lim
A potential successor to BlackRock Chief Executive Laurence Fink has been elevated to a new job that gives him more power inside the world's biggest asset manager.
Mark Wiedman will head BlackRock's international operations and corporate strategy, according to a company memo reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. He previously was in charge of the New York firm's fast-growing exchange-traded funds and index fund business.
The move signals that the firm is grooming Mr. Wiedman, 48, as a possible heir to Mr. Fink, 66. His new task is to shape BlackRock's overall strategy and push the company more deeply into international markets at a time it faces heightened competition in the U.S.
In a significant shift, he will report directly to Mr. Fink instead of President Rob Kapito and share some responsibilities with the CEO. Two overseas regional heads who previously reported to Mr. Fink will now have dual reporting lines to Mr. Wiedman and the CEO.
Mr. Wiedman isn't the only insider with a shot at the top job. Other potential candidates include Mr. Kapito, active-equities head Mark Wiseman, Chief Operating Officer Rob Goldstein, Americas head Mark McCombe and fixed income chief Rich Kushel, according to people familiar with the matter.
BlackRock made clear that the elevation of Mr. Wiedman is the first of other moves planned for 2019 at the $6.4 trillion firm.
"With these changes, and others we'll make later this year, our aim is to bring the firm closer together, to simplify our organization, to make us more nimble, and to create new opportunities to drive growth and serve our clients," BlackRock said in its memo Wednesday.
Like many asset managers, BlackRock has wrestled in the past year with growing investor unease, heightened price competition across the industry and slumping share prices. The drop-off in new money committed to asset managers in 2018 was the sharpest since 2008, according to estimates from research firm Morningstar Inc.
"We enter 2019 in an environment of significant change and need to continue evolving the firm to accelerate our growth," according to the memo.
Mr. Wiedman in his new job will help review BlackRock's business strategies. A key test for him will be helping lead a more aggressive push into markets overseas including China, where it is a smaller player.
He joined the firm in 2004 after previous roles with the U.S. Treasury and management consultancy McKinsey.
Salim Ramji, previously in charge of the firm's U.S. wealth advisory business, will succeed Mr. Wiedman as the head of BlackRock's iShares exchange-traded fund business as well as its index investments. Martin Small, who oversaw the firm's U.S. and Canada iShares business, will lead the U.S. wealth advisory business.
Write to Dawn Lim at email@example.com
Corrections & Amplifications
This article was corrected on Jan. 11, 2019 because an earlier version incorrectly stated that BlackRock Chief Executive Laurence Fink is 67 years old. Mr. Fink is 66.