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Fund Times: Former Growth Manager Scores GOP Victory

Plus, changes at AIM, Fidelity, and Matthews, and more.

Morningstar Analysts, 02/11/2008

Fund-manager-turned-politician James D. Oberweis finally notched a win in the Feb. 5 primary election for the U.S. Congressional seat held by former House Speaker Dennis Hastert. Oberweis, who may be best known for the dairy his family owns, has made multiple unsuccessful runs for public office. But Oberweis secured the GOP nomination in suburban Chicago's 14th District. Oberweis is the former president of Oberweis Asset Management and served as the manager of Oberweis Emerging Growth OBEGX for 14 years until 2001, when he left the asset management business to pursue politics full time. His son, James W. Oberweis, has been leading the fund shop since then.

AIM Shakes Up Its Growth Team, Names CIO
AIM Investments recently announced the departure of three managers from its struggling growth-fund lineup and named an insider as chief investment officer of the firm's domestic-stock funds. The growth managers who have left the firm include Lanny Sachnowitz of AIM Constellation CSTGX and AIM Technology ITYAX, James Birdsall of the domestic sleeve of AIM Global Aggressive Growth AGAAX, and Kirk Anderson of the domestic sleeve of AIM Global Growth AGGAX. Robert Lloyd of AIM Summit ASMMX will replace Sachnowitz on AIM Constellation and will serve as interim manager of the domestic sleeve of AIM Global Growth. Warren Tennant, who has eight years of experience as a technology analyst on the fund, will serve as the lead manager of AIM Technology and manager of the technology sleeve of AIM Multi-Sector IAMSX. Paul Rasplicka will take over Birdsall's responsibilities on AIM Global Aggressive.

Meanwhile Juliet Ellis, the successful manager of AIM Small Cap Equity SMEAX and AIM Small Cap Growth GTSAX, has been named chief investment officer of AIM's domestic growth offerings. Supporting Ellis on AIM Small Cap Growth will be Clay Manley, a former equity analyst who was promoted to comanager of the fund.

'Second-Generation' ETFs Are Almost Here
PowerShares has received preliminary SEC approval to launch four actively managed ETFs, which would be the first of their kind offered in the United States. (Final approval depends on a public review process, which will take place in late February 2008.) This marks a significant step for the ETF industry, as providers have struggled for years to get the green light from the SEC.

Two of the proposed funds, PowerShares ActiveQ and PowerShares Active Alpha Multi-Cap are to be subadvised by AER Advisor. The managers would use a quantitative screening methodology to maintain portfolios of 50 stocks for each fund. PowerShares Active Mega-Cap and PowerShares Active Low Duration would be run by Invesco, also using a quantitative process. The latter seeks to outperform the Lehman Brothers 1-3 Year U.S. Treasury Index through a total return approach.

Fidelity, Matthews Shuffle Managers
Ramin Arani has become the sole equity manager of Fidelity Puritan FPURX. After a successful stint at Fidelity Trend FTRNX, he came aboard the balanced fund in February 2007, managing its equity portion with Stephen Petersen. Manager George Fischer will continue to oversee the bond portion. Peterson remains at the helm of Fidelity Equity-Income FEQIX and VIP Equity Income portfolios.

Matthews International Capital Management has announced that Paul Matthews, chairman and CIO, and Andrew Foster, director of research, are swapping roles at Matthews Asian Growth & Income MACSX. Foster, now the lead manager, served as an analyst since 2003 and a comanager since 2005. Matthews, who has run the fund since its 1994 inception, will play a smaller role as comanager with fewer front-line responsibilities. Similar changes will take place at Matthews Asia Pacific Equity MAPIX. Comanager Jesper Madsen will replace Foster as the lead manager there.

Hedge Fund Settles Late-Trading Charges
Ritchie Capital Management, its investment adviser, founder Thane Ritchie, and employees Warren DeMaio and Michael Mauriello have agreed to pay $40 million to settle charges of illegal late trading. From January 2001 through September 2003, Ritchie Capital placed thousands of late trades in mutual funds and used post-market news and information to illegally profit from stale fund NAVs, says the SEC. The settlement monies will be distributed to the affected mutual funds.

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