J.P. Morgan & Co. announced plans Wednesday to spin off its risk products group, which develops risk management methods, data, and software.

Morgan said it will maintain a significant stake in the new company, which will be called RiskMetrics Group. All 40 employees of Morgan's risk management unit will move to RiskMetrics and become shareholders of the new company. RiskMetrics, which will be based in New York and have an office in London, will eventually increase its staff to 60, a Morgan spokesman said.

Morgan's existing risk management products will be marketed jointly under both companies' names. A series of new products is expected shortly. Morgan said it will continue to provide certain methodologies developed by its risk management group to clients for free, including RiskMetrics.

Stephen Thieke, head of Morgan's risk management group, has been named chairman of the new company, and he will retain his position at Morgan. Ethan Berman, managing director and head of Morgan's risk products group, will leave Morgan to become chief executive of the new company.

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