T. Rowe Price Group has agreed to purchase a 26 percent stake in India's oldest mutual fund firm for $138 million, giving the Baltimore money manager a big presence in a growing market and expanding its global footprint.

The company said Monday that the investment in UTI Asset Management Co. provides access to $17 billion in assets under management and nearly 10 million individual and institutional investor accounts in India. Price, which acquired its stake from existing stockholders, becomes privately held UTI's largest shareholder. The deal is expected to close in December.

Global markets have become a bigger piece of Price's business since 2000. Today, 11 percent of the firm's $366.2 billion assets under management as of Sept. 30 come from outside the United States, serving clients in 30 countries.

Price Chief Executive Officer and President James A.C. Kennedy said in an interview that India is an attractive market that provides strong long-term growth opportunities. Kennedy pointed to the country's huge population, especially the burgeoning working-age group.

"They're dynamic, they're growing and their savings rate is over 30 percent," he said. "There's a huge opportunity over time to help Indians invest."

Under the relationship, Price will help UTI with research, portfolio management, risk management and distribution as well as work with the Indian firm to create new products over time, Kennedy said. UTI is the country's fourth-largest asset management firm with a 10 percent market share.

In return, UTI will help Price deepen its knowledge of companies and investment opportunities in India, Kennedy said.

"So this is a continuation of our global reach," he said.

Price already invests in Indian companies through its New Asia mutual fund, while it has an existing sub-advisory relationship with India's Kotak Asset Management Co.

T. Rowe Price's shares rose $1.01, or 2 percent, to close at $50.99.

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