Morningstar Inc. has agreed to buy the mutual fund data business of Standard & Poor's for $55 million in cash-a move expected to significantly strengthen the company in international markets.
   The purchase of the data will give Morningstar data and products covering more than 135,000 managed investment products, including mutual funds, ETFs, hedge funds and offshore funds, according to the company.
   About 80% of Standard & Poor's mutual fund data business is outside the United States, according to Morningstar.
   "Morningstar will have a much stronger presence outside the United States, particularly in Europe, where Standard & Poor's has operated for more than 20 years," said Joe Mansueto, chairman and CEO of Morningstar.
   Morningstar says the acquisition will give it the world's largest database for managed investment products. More than 1,100 institutions around the world use Standard & Poor's fund data products, according to Morningstar, and Morningstar says it expects to extend its reach to about 10,000 new advisors outside the United States.
   Standard & Poor's, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies, will license fund data from Morningstar after the acquisition is complete, according to Morningstar.