BlackRock Inc., the world's biggest money manager, was hired by state insurance regulators to assess the industry's potential losses from holding commercial mortgage-backed securities.

BlackRock will review more than 7,000 securities by yearend, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners said Thursday on its website.

The New York firm will calculate loss expectations for the holdings, which will determine how much capital insurers must hold to cushion potential declines, the NAIC said.

"These assessments continue to distinguish and supplement the stringent capital requirements of NAIC and state insurance regulators," Jane Cline, the NAIC's president, said in a press release.

Insurance regulators are searching for an alternative to Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's, whose ratings were cited by some as one cause of the financial crisis.

Last year, the NAIC hired Pacific Investment Management Co. to evaluate insurance firms' home loan securities.

BlackRock advised financial companies and governments during the credit crisis on how to value mortgage-related assets. It won the NAIC contract from among 16 bidders.

BlackRock is led by Laurence D. Fink, who three decades ago helped pioneer collateralized mortgage obligations as a bond trader at First Boston Corp., now a part of Credit Suisse Group AG.

The BlackRock Solutions unit has advised the U.S. government on debt once held by American International Group Inc. and Bear Stearns Cos.

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