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Marsh & McLennan’s chief executive said the company sold off its Putnam investment unit because the $4 billion price was right and a spin-off would probably have crippled the new company with debt.

During a conference call held this morning to discuss the sale of New York-based MMC’s Putnam investment fund arm, Michael G. Cherkasky, president and chief executive officer of the company, said, “If it hadn’t been this kind of price it could have been a different decision for us.”

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