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Alpine Woods Settles IPO Case

Plus, Missouri drops 529 fees, Transamerica shuffles subadvisors, and more.

Morningstar Analysts, 02/14/2011

Alpine Woods Capital Investors, LLC and its chief executive officer, Samuel Lieber, reached a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding trading of initial public offering shares in two of the firm's smallest funds. Alpine agreed to retain its compliance consultant (which the firm hired before the SEC investigation began) and pay a penalty of $650,000. Samuel Lieber will pay $65,000.

The SEC alleged that between Feb. 1, 2006, and Jan. 31, 2008, Alpine Dynamic Financial Services ADFSX and Alpine Dynamic Innovators ADINX took part in a disproportionate number of IPOs (relative to the firm's 11 other open-end funds) and quickly sold some or all of the shares within three days of purchase without disclosing to either the fund board or investors how these trades impacted performance. Further, the SEC alleged that Alpine's policies and procedures didn't prevent the disproportionate allocation of IPO shares, and that the firm's compliance program didn't have enough resources in place to monitor the activities. During the two-year period in question, the chief compliance officer also served as the chief operating officer, chief financial officer, and chief administrative officer.

Missouri Drops 529 Fees
Missouri's MOST 529 college savings plan is getting cheaper, according to an announcement from State Treasurer Clint Zweiful. Costs for the direct-sold plan will range from 0.29% to 0.38% for age-based and index options, down from 0.55%. Actively managed portfolios' costs will range from 0.53% to 0.60%, down from 0.87% to 1.58%. For the advisor-sold plan, no account owner's fees will increase and 27% of them will see fees decrease.

These cuts make the direct-sold plan, which earns an average Morningstar analyst rating, more competitive on the fee front with Vanguard's direct-sold plans in New York and Nevada, which are the industry's cheapest.

Also, Missouri retained Upromise as its plan manager for the next five years and announced that DWS Investments will be the exclusive distributor of its advisor-sold MOST 529 plan.

Transamerica Subadvisor Shuffle
Transamerica recently announced a number of subadvisor and fund name changes that will take place at the end of next month.

JPMorgan and BlackRock will become the subadvisors of Transamerica Balanced IBALX and the fund's name will change to Transamerica Multi-Managed Balanced.

Wellington Management will become the sole subadvisor of Transamerica Diversified Equity TADAX. The fund's name will change to Transamerica WMC Diversified Equity.

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