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Fund Times: Vanguard Plans Global Stock Index Fund

Plus, changes at the top at TIAA-CREF, manager rotations, and more.

Morningstar Analysts, 04/07/2008

Vanguard announced plans to launch its furthest-reaching index fund yet. It has filed with the SEC to offer an index fund (and corresponding exchange-traded fund) that tracks the stocks of the FTSE All-World Index.

This index consists of about 2,800 mid- and large-cap companies in nearly 50 countries. About 55% of the index is constituted by non-U.S.-based corporations. Beyond diversification, this fund will bring other benefits to investors, such as low expenses. The ETF share class will charge 0.25%--nearly 1 full percentage point less than the typical no-load fund in the world-stock category. The traditional retail share class will charge 0.45%. Investors who buy the open-end retail shares, however, also will have to pay a one-time 0.15% purchase fee and a 2% redemption fee on shares sold within two months of purchase.

At first glance, this could be an easy choice for one-stop domestic and international equity exposure.

TIAA-CREF Gets New Chairman
TIAA-CREF announced Thursday that it has a new CEO and a new chairman. The firm named Roger Ferguson Jr. as president and chief executive officer, succeeding Herb Allison Jr. TIAA-CREF has been planning the transition for many months. Ferguson's career includes stints as the vice chairman Federal Reserve Board of Governors and most recently as the head of financial services at Swiss Re. There, he oversaw the management of about $200 billion in assets. (TIAA-CREF is responsible for about $435 billion).

Ronald Thompson is the firm's new chairman. He has served as a board member since 1995 and currently serves as its presiding trustee. He was chairman and chief executive officer of Midwest Stamping and Manufacturing Company for 12 years.

Turner Reopens Small-Cap Fund
Turner Small Cap Equity TSEIX is open again to new investors. Despite the fund's very small size--it holds less than $50 million in assets--Turner closed it in mid-2005. It did so at the time to safeguard all of its small-cap funds' ability to fully invest in new opportunities. (The firm also runs the $260 million fund Turner Small Cap Growth TSCEX, as well as separate accounts.) We're cautious about funds reopening, especially those that invest in small-cap stocks, but Turner managing director John Lehning said that the firm's asset-capacity studies showed Small Cap Equity and its related small-cap core equity investments could comfortably accommodate additional inflows without jeopardizing performance.

Vanguard Also Shuffles Its Muni Managers
Vanguard bond manager Marlin G. Brown has taken over for John Carbone at Vanguard Pennsylvania Long-Term Tax-Exempt VPAIX, Vanguard Ohio Long-Term Tax-Exempt VOHIX, and Vanguard Massachusetts Tax-Exempt VMATX. Brown remains manager of Vanguard Limited-Term Tax-Exempt VMLTX, and Carbone continues to oversee several other funds. But Brown gives up responsibilities elsewhere in order to take over these funds. In his place, Kathryn T. Allen takes over Vanguard New Jersey Tax-Exempt Money Market and Pamela W. Tynan takes over Vanguard Ohio Tax-Exempt Money Market.

These changes shouldn't alarm investors. Vanguard's muni group is an experienced bunch that occasionally reassigns managers to broaden each member's exposure to the market and allow them new opportunities.

RiverSource Rebrands Four International Funds
The funds formerly known as RiverSource Emerging Markets IDEAX, RiverSource European Equity AXEAX, RiverSource Global Equity IGLGX, and RiverSource International Opportunity INIFX have a new brand name. They are now marketed as Threadneedle funds. Threadneedle International, a London-based asset manager, already subadvised these funds and will continue to do so. Threadneedle manages about $137 billion in assets across all accounts. Ameriprise Financial-owned RiverSource made the change to add clarity to its lineup.

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