High-profile investment research and products provider Morningstar will buy privately held Ibbotson Associates, an asset allocation service concern, for $83 million.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2006. Morningstar said that it would retain the Ibbotson brand and is currently in the process of assembling a transition team.

"Ibbotson's expertise in asset allocation and Morningstar's expertise in security selection and investment research is a powerful combination," said Joe Mansueto, chairman and chief executive officer of Morningstar, in a statement. "Our companies share many similarities, and we have a firm commitment to helping investors reach their financial goals."

Ibbotson generated roughly $37 million in revenue for its last fiscal year and has some $3.5 billion in assets under management in 401(k) and other defined-contribution plans.

Both Roger Ibbotson, the founder of Ibbotson Associates, and Mike Henkel, the firm's president, plan to stay with the company following the close of the transaction.

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