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Morgan Stanley Names New Global Managers

Plus, Wintergreen's battle, Evergreen cuts B shares, and more.

Morningstar Analysts, 05/04/2009

Morningstar's fund analysts cover 2,000 mutual funds. Their full analyst reports, including Stewardship Grades, are available in Morningstar Principia Mutual Funds Advanced and Morningstar Advisor Workstation Office Edition.

Morgan Stanley announced that two internal teams will take over the funds currently run by star manager Hassan Elmasry, who will leave in June to start his own firm. Van Kampen Global Franchise VGFAX, Van Kampen Global Value Equity MGEAX, and their respective Morgan Stanley institutional versions will be taken over by the International Equity team, led by William Lock and Peter Wright. That team has posted impressive long-term returns at Morgan Stanley Institutional International Equity MSIQX and will take a similar approach at its new charges, focusing on undervalued, high-quality companies with solid free cash flow.

Dennis Lynch's team will take over Van Kampen American Franchise VAFAX. The large-value fund will likely have more of a growth orientation going forward because the incoming team currently runs several growth funds, but it will still focus on companies with strong competitive advantages. The fund will most closely resemble another Lynch fund, Van Kampen Core Growth VCOAX, which is less than a year old.

Elmasry announced in February that he was leaving to start his own firm, and the rest of his team, including Michael Allison, Paras Dodhia, Jayson Vowles, and John Kelly-Jones, later decided to follow him. His departure is certainly a blow to the funds because he had amassed good records during his tenure, but it's encouraging that his replacements are well-established teams with solid track records of their own.

Wintergreen Battles Consolidated-Tomoka Land
Wintergreen Advisers, which runs Wintergreen Fund WGRNX, is in a heated proxy fight with one of its own portfolio holdings, Consolidated-Tomoka Land. At the heart of the matter is Wintergreen portfolio manager David Winters' disapproval of how the company is being run.

More specifically, Wintergreen has submitted several shareholder proposals, all of which will be voted on by shareholders on or before (by proxy) CTO's annual meeting, which will take place May 13, 2009. Most of the proposals center on the makeup of the board of directors, including Wintergreen Advisers' nomination of three independent directors (running against three incumbent directors) and the separation of the board chairman and chief executive officer positions.

Both Wintergreen Advisers and CTO have been forceful and vocal in their arguments. Each has sent shareholders additional proxy soliciting materials, which must be filed with the SEC, not only detailing the rationale for their own proposals but also picking apart the other's submissions. Not surprisingly, each has suggested that the other's intentions are self-serving and not in the interests of CTO's shareholders overall.PAGEBREAK

As a large shareholder in the firm--Wintergreen Advisers owns just more than 25% of CTO's shares--Winters certainly has the clout to command attention from CTO's board of directors and shareholders. He also has experience in shareholder activism; he spent most of his career working with Michael Price, a noted shareholder activist and investor, at Mutual Series.

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